Marketing for movies is increasingly becoming a multi-screen experience. In the past, production houses started marketing their films 6 weeks in advance. In today’s age of multi-device access points, they realise that the attention spans of their forever Connected Customers are reducing and they should provide an experience on the second and third screen too.
Until 3 years ago, it was OK to buy advertising space on billboards, electronic media (TV), and Print. These days however, the increasing presence of multiplexes means that movies stay in theatres for a maximum of 2-3 weeks. This means that the ‘word of mouth’ recommendation that movies rely on needs to start sooner. The film needs to generate buzz even before it has released in theatres!
With limited budgets for advertising, marketers are increasing relying on the internet and a small team of social media managers that create a strategy for the movie content to be released in a staged manner right until the point of release. This ensures that fans are continually fed information about a film via various online touch-points and the buzz for a film reaches a crescendo by the time a movie is set to release.
The Big Idea/ Umbrella Thought
Before you start making any movie marketing plan, you need to objectively define how you want the movie to be portrayed online. The communication and tone of voice here are very important. What is most important however is a Central Theme or a Big Idea that will eventually unify all marketing efforts. This idea normally stems from the content of the film and the audience it will cater to.
Once you have that in place, you can move on to the next step.
Phases of Bollywood Movie Maketing
Every Bollywood film has phases in which all marketing content is released. This is standard for every film. Some films might skip a few of the below phases but mostly, this is what is followed in the industry:
What do These Phases Mean?
Teaser – This is the very first time that a movie’s content is released to the world. This is normally a teaser for the film’s marketing, meant to generate buzz and excitement for the fans. E.g.
First Look – This is normally an image which will eventually become the Key Art Image of the film. This image will be the truest representation of the film and will normally tell you what the film is about and the lead roles. It will also contain the logos of the production house involved and credits.
Theatrical Trailer Release – This is the phase where the main trailer of the film releases. For TV viewing, production houses cut the theatrical trailer into various lengths of 30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds and 120 seconds. On the internet however, the 120 second trailer is directly uploaded.
Music Launch – A film’s music launch is one of the main events in its build-up to the release. This event ensures a lot of publicity for the film and your social media plan needs to ensure that there is enough activity planned for this phase. You can run a contest, live-tweet from the event to give fans access to behind-the-scenes content, like candid images of the cast and short videos. Video-streaming the event on the website is another possibility. From this stage on, a movie’s song are released for playing on TV and Radio.
City Tours Begin – To publicize a movie, its cast, director and producer conduct a city-wise tour of the important cities in India. Apart from the obvious Tier-I cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata, of-late city tours are also conducted in smaller cities that rake in the moolah such as Pune, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Lucknow. Candid photos, guessing the details of the location and much more can be done online to keep the buzz going for a film.
Producer/Director’s Interview – After the city tours are done, there is a quite lull before the movie releases. To compensate for this, interviews of the Producer & Director are generally released. These could talk of the challenges in making the film, the fun that was had, some quirky moments during the shoot and some behind the scenes incidents that have not been spoken of before. These interviews can then be released to online properties and media partners to further stoke fan interest.
Movie Premiere – A movie premiere is a special event. It is the very first time that the film is being shown to a select group of masses. This is the last chance to create buzz around a film. Marketers can take a Vox Populi from the audience present there and can also quote famous journalists and film reviews. Earlier contest winners can be invited to watch the film too.
Movie Release – Most people believe that the release weekend begins from Friday onwards, however they are incorrect. The weekend in Dubai starts on Thursday and therefore, most Bollywood movies that are slated to release worldwide, are first released in Dubai and then in rest of the world. This is when the chatter around your film increases dramatically and you need to reply to all the positive and negative comments around the movie across websites and social media. International fans are usually asking for the list of theatres where the movie is playing in their region, so make sure you have a comprehensive list already put-up on all your Social Media properties.
Post-Release Follow Up – In this phase, you are mostly listening and replying to fans online – remember to take compliments and accept brickbats graciously. Avoid getting into verbal volleys with fans as that is always a no-win situation.
Online Properties You Can Engage In
What Is Happening These Days
These days, fans don’t like spoon-fed content about the movie. They want to be able to discover the content. Therefore, internet marketers need to optimize their content better – better SEO for the website, and better descriptions and tagging of videos uploaded to YouTube and blog posts. Serving content to a larger syndication of movie blogs and publishers that release stories in a non-PR fashion also helps the movie generate buzz faster in the initial days of its marketing activity.
Previously, discarded content like Not Good Takes and Production Stills are now worth their weight in gold. Fans are looking for content that is different from what is already available on the TV and in newspapers. These images and video shots provide the best form of inside access in the shortest possible time frame. Interviews have evolved too – apart from talking about the film, Actors/ Producers and DoPs now talk about the fun instances during the shoot. Candid videos are also all the rage, like this one.
How Movies Can Better Leverage Third-Party Associations
Brands – If you have in-film advertising, leverage the same by tying up your Social Media Marketing with the brand’s online properties, especially during the initial days of your marketing. This ensures a wider reach for your movie.
Multiplexes & Malls – The same can be done with multiplexes, which send regular newsletters to their fans. A contest there is the most underrated form of marketing which generally works well. The City Tours are normally held at mall locations in various cities – most of which have an online presence on Social Media. Partner with them to engage with users there.
In The Future
Movie screens are constantly jostling for attention space with the other screens in our lives – laptop screens, smartphone screens and TV screens. It is now acceptable to tweet or WhatsApp when watching a film.
What if all the communication of a film prominently displayed a hashtag – all images, all videos and all their properties used it? What if it were to be displayed at the start of the movie? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
What else would you do to market a Bollywood film?
Featured image: Meanest Indian