By Yohan P Chawla
Organic sessions for organic growth. That seems to have been the motive behind an interesting, facts- and research-supported ‘educative’ session Facebook organized in Mumbai to inform and enthuse trade media journalists about the gauntlet that Facebook and Instagram seem to have thrown at traditional media when it comes to Hindi film promotions as a business category. That FB and Insta together are so powerful in mainstream Bollywood movie promotions that traditional mediums are going to have to rethink their business models and how to make them sustain the “threat” of digital.
The threat seems real, make no mistake. The recent growth of digital spends, which have risen to about 30% from a mere 8-15% in a marketing plan, indicates how bullish marketers are on this medium, and that they realize the importance and benefits of drilling deep into the market, with the ability to target a specific – and ever growing — audience.
Traditional vs Digital Film Promotion
Back in the day, when film promotions had a very short shelf life of about 20-30 days prior to the release. These promotions used to happen entirely on traditional media like print, television, outdoor and radio, targeting the masses. With the advent of digital platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etcetera, the start-dates of film promotions have increased to release minus 60.
The basic job of movie promotions is plain and simple: drive the maximum footfalls to every theatre on the day of release. After that, it will be all about the quality and stickiness of the content, which organically drives sales for days, weeks, even months to come. Of course, it is primarily if not solely the social conversations that achieve this multiplier effect post-release. And before a movie releases, of course, Facebook helps in building a community and interest, generate real-time conversations and feedback, and create a fan base, which in-turn drives word of mouth and buzz. Of course, as I said, once the initial audiences have experienced the movie, the word of mouth and buzz can swing either way in tone, tenor and impact on the box office.
Facebook shared the findings of research entitled ‘Media Effectiveness in Hindi Film Marketing’ that suggested that Facebook and Instagram together lead the pie with 21% contribution of each media impacting first-day box office sales. Other platforms are behind it; Youtube at 18%, and traditional mass medium Television very far behind, at 13%.
The research results further pointed out that Facebook is one of the top 3 mediums in driving buzz and appeal for a film campaign, achieving it through organic methods like link shares and conversations, apart from initiatives like Facebook Live. Their products which engulf movies, music, celebs, individual artists and popular events across Hindi films, leverage the use of digital to a great extent. For example, Facebook partnered with PVR cinemas earlier this year to do an FB Live session of Alia Bhatt with cinema buffs inside the theatre while they were watching MeghnaGulzar’s Raazi on the big screen. This fueled the mixture of online and offline promotion techniques with product innovation and enhanced user experience. However, how far the fact that Raazi was a well made and engrossing film in itself, contributed to the fortunes of the film was not mentioned. Or whether an enhanced user experience is really needed for a well made film that can ride ahead purely on great Word Of Mouth which Facebook and Insta can undoubtedly spark, provide and multiply.
It was shared that Hindi film studios realize the power of Facebook. Dharma Productions had created an FB event for the trailer launch of Dhadak, the Hindi remake of the popular Marathi film Sairat, which starred Janvhi Kapoor and Ishaan Khatter, and launched the trailer simultaneously on 25 Facebook pages owned by Dharma, which multiplied and grew their reach geometrically.
‘IGTV to drive Instagram growth’
A Facebook spokesperson said, “Instagram TV (IGTV) will be a key part of Instagram’s glowing future, as it has been a pioneer of stories in a lot of ways in India and IGTV will form a part of that too. The Akshay Kumar starrer film Gold realized the power of vertical video viewing experience and quickly adapted to use the technology to their benefit.”
Akshay Kumar is the only Hindi film male actor to have crossed 20 million followers on Instagram as recently as the day before yesterday. However, it is the ladies who lead the list of stars with the most number of followers on Instagram — Priyanka Chopra and DeepikaPadukone. But Akshay Kumar’s fan base has increased at a galloping pace. He is one of the very few Bollywood celebrities who has successfully used FB and Instagram to the fullest extent to promote his cause-supporting films such as Padman.
On Facebook’s impact on the Indian movie business, Saurabh Doshi, Head – Entertainment Partnerships, APAC, Facebook, said “Facebook is a great place for fans to directly connect with their favorite stars and movies and drive reach and more engagement. We aim to become the go to destination for celebrities and movie marketers to promote and connect with their followers in an authentic way and experience the power of organic content and first-hand interactions.”
“This is a unique, one-of-its-kind study, developed exclusively for the Indian market, which correlates the actual box office collections to a movie’s marketing mix,” said Gautam Jain, Partner, Ormax Media, which conducted the research Facebook has been using to support its claims. “The research went beyond just media metrics such as impressions, readership etc. as a barometer for a film’s marketing success, and also focused on awareness or buzz and intent to watch or appeal as key parameters.”
“The study had a comprehensive scale with over 25,000 movie goers surveyed across several cities, demographics and strata in a 6 month effort, evaluating performance of nine media basis the impact created in driving movie ticket sales,” Jain added.