How much promotion is ideal for an upcoming Bollywood movie?
Parmanu- The Story of Pokhran released on 25th May 2018 and has been a decent success at the Box Office. The startling fact about the movie is that there was barely to no promotion done. The trailer was launched two weeks before the slated date of release, there was no buzz whatsoever being created, yet it did wonders. This leaves us with one fundamental question: Has less become more while marketing your film?
Less is More?
One of the only actors to follow this mantra occasionally is Aamir Khan. For his movie Dhoom 3, there was no theatrical trailer released and this made people further excited since the franchise was already loved and so was the actor. It turned out to be a huge hit and this strategy clearly worked.
Another example would be the movie Raazi. There was no publicity drives, city tours etc; the opening day collections were not too high but people turned out to be the biggest assets for the movie. Everyone who saw it became its advocates and this word of mouth turned out to be the reason why it did so well post-release.
Parmanu and Raazi which have released recently are a clear antithesis of what has usually been followed in Bollywood for the past few years. It has forced P&A teams, publicists and marketing agencies to rethink their strategies.
The Earlier Trend
The norm earlier was to go on every possible TV Show to plug in one's movie. At times this placement was shabby and looked forced. Appearing on every reality show including the Comedy Nights was considered to be a compulsion. City tours, media deals, college festival visits, fan meets, promotional videos with online content creators etc. was the need of the hour. Interestingly, there have been so many movies whose P&A budget equaled the Cost of Production.
Ghajini, again an Aamir Khan starrer can be a perfect example of how necessary it was earlier to get word of the movie out there. Everyone who worked at a particular chain of theatres was given the famous 'Ghajini Haircut' to generate buzz about the movie. Some of these haircuts were given by the star himself.
Happy New Year was another movie where the actors went all out. The launch of the digital poster included 'personalized' posters signed by one's favourite actor via a software. This generated a so-called personal connect with the fans.
Thus, the big dilemma arises- Should we market the film with all guns blazing or let the content speak for itself?
Films: A Product
In my opinion, Films are nothing but a product and just as each product has a different marketing strategy so should a movie. It should clearly position itself as well as be bound by a time frame.
Regarding time frame, the best example would be Raees. When the teaser for the movie released, it broke all records and went viral. The problem here was that it was released over a year before the actual movie released, thus eventually lowering the hype and excitement for the movie. It was an average affair at the box office.
Regarding positioning itself, the Jab Harry Met Sejal makers launched a first of its kind 'quickies' which were 30-second introductions of the characters via conversation. This gave the indication that the movie would be conversational in nature and would be a fun, frothy affair. However, the movie dealt with certain darker tones and wasn't what it promised to be hence, flopping at the Box Office.
The Concluding Word:
Films should have their own journey. If a film is targeted at a particular set of audience, it should be clearly told from Day 1 itself. Example being many of the Bhatt film movies. Looking at the Emraan Hashmi starrers, they were targeted to youngsters and college going youth who had certain tastes and would love to watch their stars in a movie filled with sensual overtones coupled with twists and turns.
Too much promotion nowadays definitely spoils the hype surrounding a movie.
Example- Firangi, the Kapil Sharma starrer was mentioned in almost all his shows, he did everything possible to make people aware of the movie. They did become aware of it but simply chose to ignore it. If you tell someone about an event and make it seem exciting, they will come to the event. If you force them to come, it indicates that the movie is mediocre and hence, they are most likely not to. Even if they do end up coming they will feel cheated and hence the word of mouth will definitely be detrimental to the movie.
There should be a desire evoked in the audiences to go out there and actually see what the movie is all about. With the advent of all the Online streaming platforms, any intention which looks like begging audiences will be ignored. Efforts should be made to simply inform and entice audiences, creating a sense of awe and mystery about the product. Only then will they come out to the cinemas and spend their hard earned money and time to catch the spectacle on 70MM.
There is no promotional weapon as strong as word of mouth.