Social Samosa writer, Paawan Sunam, writes about the mad-hatter horror comedy that has called upon several brand integrations which take the not-so-subtle route, or rather in-your-face way, making Phone Bhoot one of the few movies that show ads within a theatrical release without ad breaks.
Creating gaps in the narrative to be later filled with brand integrations? No. Subtle product placements carefully woven into the storyline? No. How about completely disengaging from the story and literally showing an ad in the middle of the film (redefine ad film?). Yes. This is how the conversation between the makers of Phone Bhoot and the brand alliance managers on board must have gone.
The article is filled with spoilers, feel free to watch the movie and then read this in your post-movie analysis session.
The over-the-top tonality, caricature-like expressions, humor-packed narrative, interactive nature of the storytelling, and direct addressal of the audience, all of these elements lent themselves to direct promotions instead of discreet placements. Several iconic and new-age brands have been integrated into the spooky storyline.
Here is how the movie showed ads without ad breaks.
Vicks Ki Goli Lo, Khich Khich Door Karo is an understatement after you see their brand integration in Phone Bhoot. Imagine an Indian version of Emily Rose who sounds like she has been drinking motor oil, and smoking logs of wood. Now imagine her voice changing from sounding like a highway truck that has not got its PUC done in years, to a sweet little schoolgirl. This was possible because of Vicks cough drops.
The bizarre but hilarious brand integration matched the tonality of the movie, and the loud pitch effectively drove the message home without Emily getting exorcised.
Rasiyaaa… Aaja… These words are enough to lure any viewer into the enchanting aura of Katrina Kaif drinking Slice, and this inclination was encapsulated within the storyline when Major & Gullu are enticed by Ragini with a close-up of luscious Slice being guzzled by her.
Katrina Kaif has been associated with Slice as a brand endorser for years as a part of her long-running association. As the face of this fruit-flavored beverage, she is synonymous with the brand, which is why the in-your-face brand integration that looks like an ad without the ad break seems familiar and goes amusingly well within the narrative.
Chudail Ki Shakti Uski Choti Me Hoti Hai…. We”re all familiar with this trait of witches sneezes in Stree, and who would’ve thought that the strength of a witch’s ponytail is nourished by Vasmol. Guess the jingle ‘Surakshit Kaale Mere Baal, Vasmol Ne Kiya Kamaal’ also turns feet, oh sorry heads in the underworld.
During a sequence that entails an encounter with a witch, her ponytail and Vasmol are not so subtly focussed on and are given par significance in the scene carrying the story forward.
Well… It seemed like a whole dance number was fused in to promote this brand. While there are several subtle product placements such as boAt headphones beside the phone booth, and within their bhootbuster suits. The not-so-subtle integration was more than a few seconds of screentime to a boAt speaker, which enables an upbeat track to break into a dance session between the characters.
The movie is one-of-the-firsts in India to reimagine a traditional marketing tool. Did we miss out on any of the integrations you spotted? Let us know in the comments below and Happy Ghosting 👻