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The Changing Era of Film Marketing

The days of press junket interviews, nationwide city tours, grand teaser & trailer launches etc. are slowly waning. With accelerated digital transformation, influx of mature audiences, and the on-going pandemic, movie marketing has evolved with the changing narratives of Indian Cinema and series.

The Impact of an Era of ‘New Cinema’

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We have been witnessing a gradual shift over the last year and a half where movies and web series like Bombay Begums, Gulabo Sitabo, Paatal Lok, Pagglait, Aarya, Scam 1992 are gaining a special place in the hearts of the audiences; a clear sign that we are ready to welcome narratives that are beyond the usual glitz, mush, and drama associated with Bollywood. As the audiences mature, creators are embracing video editorial content which is accessible on social media and is relatable and entertaining. In fact, it also paves the way to promote different facets and themes of the films in an accessible manner. A viewer spends at least four to six minutes (on an average) viewing editorial content making it more susceptible to recall, that an otherwise 10 second spot on the flash TV or the radio may not be able to achieve.

Let’s recount the promotions for Netflix’s AK versus AK. What started off as a fabricated Twitter feud between the two actors was smartly conceptualized to seamlessly lead into a house swap video piece, a roast battle, a diss track and was aided by the dispute being taken on hoardings across the city. Or even the promotions for Sony Liv’s Scam 1992 series wherein they leveraged financial journalists and influencers to create recall and awareness about the actual events of the incident, thereby turning them into advocates! Or when Pagglait released a half-page print advertisement in Hindustan Times and Dainik Jagran leaving a huge section of the canvas blank. The astute copy encouraged women to share their own inspiring stories and further leveraged it on Instagram with #AapseMatlab. All these promotions were successful in garnering organic engagement, clearly setting the precedent that content led marketing is gaining centre-stage.

As the digital ecosystem creates an environment for stronger resonance with innovative concepts, marketers too are willing to experiment and optimize their budgets. The realisation that a higher glamour quotient does not equate to maximum recall has been the driving force behind the promotional strategies of a lot of movies released recently. As editorial sketches or Instagram reel challenges for song promotions (the ‘Dheeme Dheeme’ challenge) are gaining popularity, the film industry will continue to invest in unique engaging ideas as it allows for larger mass appeal with an aim to be “audience first”.

House of Content

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OTT players have started to develop movies and series keeping the viewers in mind, thereby casting a wider net of opportunity for marketers to develop impactful plans. Today, marketers have a plethora of options to choose from such as meme marketing, Instagram inventory such as Reels, Twitter, influencers, original content videos etc., all that can be structured systematically in one poignant marketing strategy. Take the case of the Love Aaj Kal trailer that sparked a range of hilarious memes on the Internet which were seeded in or when Gulabo Sitabo managed to get the audience interested in the film by using movie dialogues, a tongue twister challenge and BTS scenes to promote one of the first mainstream Indian movies to release on a OTT streaming platform or making entertaining editorial pieces with the Creators/ Showrunners/ Directors to  leverage their fan following during movies like Choked & Ludo with Anurag Kashyap & Anurag Basu respectively--- all these advocate the shift in consumer mindset. The success of a marketing campaign no longer rides on just celebrity faces in the film, but the authenticity and connection it is able to accomplish.

A targeted hyper-local method that leverages influencers is a lot more encompassing in connecting with the larger audience pie and cementing granular growth as well. Many promotional assets are created keeping different audience cohorts in mind and social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Moj, Discord etc. may have been a part of the marketing mix earlier, but today they play a far more important role and are considered the strongest distribution channels with specific approach for each.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to it. 


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