Bollywood has never been afraid to try new things, especially when it comes to film marketing, because the wider the film's reach, the higher the box office receipts. Filmmakers have constantly taken innovative steps to get the most out of media, be it radio or television. And now it's dabbing into digital marketing, with the goal of going beyond likes and shares on social media. Filmmakers and actors are taking up newer and unique ways to promote their films and make it stand out amongst the crowd.
The promotion of a film starts much before the shooting commences. While post shoot marketing was more focussed on in the earlier times, today filmmakers pay equal attention to both pre-shoot and post-shoot marketing of the film.
A leading example of it would be the change in the announcement patterns of Bollywood movies. Earlier, film announcements used to be a closed affair. The makers of the film used to leverage on the press to announce their films through press statements or print Ads.
It was not until recently that digital media, especially social media is being widely used to announce movies. In what appears to be a recent development, filmmakers are aiming at grand announcements through videos for upcoming movies.
Films like ‘Shamshera’, ‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’, and ‘Selfie’ took a different route of film announcement. All three films had the lead actors come together and shoot videos to announce the movie through social media. While small clippings of shoots combined were used to announce movies, shooting a different dedicated announcement is a new phenomenon in Bollywood.
Mr. Atul Mohan, Editor of Trade Magazine ‘Complete Cinema’ reflected upon the changing face of film promotions in Bollywood. He said, “From the 1970s till the last four to five years, films were majorly announced through Newspaper Ads and brochures. There used to be big film posters in form of standees or page covers across newspapers and magazines. This was when the Print industry was at peak. The actors would do photoshoots and they were edited and published.”
He emphasised on how the rise of social media has now changed the entire scenario.
He added, “In the last few years, social media has grown from leaps to bounds. We have platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube to make the announcements. So instead of photoshoot, actors are coming together to shoot a short video for a teaser announcement. So, it is adapting to the time you are living in.”
Mr. Mohan also said that the filmmakers nowadays are more focused towards connecting and engaging with their audience. When asked about how these new tricks are helpful to the filmmakers, he added, “Earlier the announcement was just restricted to trade. We had territory-wise breakup throughout the country, distributors used to show interest in acquiring movies that would be of interest to their territory. But now, the rise of social media has made it important to engage with audiences. So, as they like or dislike, comment or share the teaser, there is buzz created around the movie that keeps the audiences interested. The filmmakers also share photographs and videos from the sets to engage their target audience towards the film.”
Speaking on similar lines, Ms. Shilpi Duggal, Head of Keerat Publicity Reputation Management Firm, commented on the changing consumption pattern of content by the audiences. She said, “Scope of consumption has changed largely over the past decade. Earlier the audiences would wait for their favourite actor/superstar's film announcement and would religiously watch it in theatres.”
She further went on to say how the youth in the current time is very focused on digital consumption and that has also pushed filmmakers to adapt themselves to this change. “We have seen tremendous change to this practice as majority of the youth focus on digital consumption. There is amazing content which now they have access to not only Indian but world cinema.”
The Covid-19 outbreak also brought in a wave of change in the change in the film industry. With restrictions imposed, many film, big and small, had to halt shoots, and the mode of delivery changed drastically.
This widely affected the promotions of the films as well. When asked about if the pandemic played a role in changing the mindsets of filmmakers, Duggal said, “Ever since the pandemic, ground promotions have been restricted in the last two years. It has become a challenge for promotions, publicity and marketing to come up with innovative ideas to publicize their content using the non-traditional outreach to their audiences.”
She added, “You cannot use the same old technique to promote your film, so coming up with some unique ideas for film promotion is need of the hour. For audience engagement techniques are important to ensure that the word about a film's announcement reaches maximum people.”
Ms. Duggal also talked about the impact of these new tricks on the minds of the audiences. She reflected upon how the current generation is smart in the way in consumes content.
She said, “We are dealing with intelligent masses, if they are watching an OTT film, they want to find out about the buzz about the content. Since they are committing their 2-3 hours go a film, they want to ensure what they consume is suiting their palette.”