Disney UTV Studios goes gung-ho on digital movie marketing

MUMBAI: As one of the TVC‘s says ‘In the age of technology its criminal to think one is stranded,‘ similarly, in 2013 it will be stupid to think that a movie release is only limited to the theatres.

Today, the social media has changed the way people connect, discover, and share information. Production houses are not leaving any stone unturned to promote their films - from promotions on television to launching various campaigns on the digital space. The digital space is now the new entrant in the list of marketing and promotion strategies of most media houses.

How can one forget the craze created by Kolaveri Di when it was leaked on the internet, and everyone wanted to watch the movie 3 after the hype generated by it. Similarly, before Himmatwalareleased, snippets of the making of various days was uploaded on YouTube for fans to see what happens behind the scenes. This was also done to create hype about the movie before its release.

In the past two years, Disney UTV Studios has tried to make the optimum use of the fact that digital has increased in importance progressively. The studio feels that the medium is perfect to engage with young movie consumers, always on-the-go, and to also build a loyal community of Hindi film fans online.

"We have a Klout score of 84 which is highest for a Hindi film studio. We have a million fans on our Facebook page (, 90, 000 followers on Twitter ( and 200, 000 subscribers on our YouTube channel," says Disney UTV executive director, marketing, studios, Shikha Kapur.

The latest movie to come out of the production house stable is Ship of Theseus. And even before the movie‘s official release date, the production house created a special ‘Vote for your city‘ campaign to promote it. Through this campaign, movie lovers in other cities (The movie is releasing in five cities - NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Kolkata on 19 July) can get the film released in their city via an online voting mechanism on Facebook.

"All they have to do is log on and vote for their city from the list provided or add their city and get a chance to watch the movie in their city. Based on the responses so far, we have already added Hyderabad to the list of cities where the movie will be released. We are getting a good response for the same," explains Kapur.

Depending on the script and the type of the movie, the production house designs its online communication to bring out the true essence of the film and at the same time engage with customers in the most innovative and interesting way possible.

In the past too, Disney UTV Studios came up with various such campaigns to connect with its audience before the film release. For instance, for Rowdy Rathore an app was created where people could vote for the different mustached looks of Akshay Kumar. More than 3000 fans participated and the look that won the most votes was adopted by Akshay in the film.

Acccording to the folks at the studios , Barfi! changed the way audiences consume content today. For this movie a digital app was created on YouTube ( "People through this app could make Ranbir Kapoor dance, smile, cry and do anything else they desired. The app was a viral hit which gained over 250,000 users in two weeks and was hailed by the Google India team as the best online innovation that has been done on YouTube in the past one and a half years. The app also won a bronze in the video innovation category at the prestigious Yahoo Big Idea Chair Awards. The only media product to do so!" informs Kapur proudly.

The production house has spread its wings in a big way in the online space and doesn‘t shy away from spending on it. "On an average between five and ten per cent of marketing spends is kept for social media marketing, but for small films like Ship Of Theseus (SOT) that spend could go up to 25 per cent. SOT is the first film that we are marketing predominantly online with a limited spend on print and no spend on TV," says Kapur who clarifies that the spend depends from movie to movie.

Now for its forthcoming movie, the Shah Rukh Khan starrer Chennai Express, the production house had crowd-sourced the trailer launch to its fans. "The concept was that the more they tweeted the faster the trailer would be released. In fact the trailer was first broken online and several hours later SRK, Deepika and Rohit Shetty revealed it to the media at a press conference," she adds.

Digital space has thrown a new challenge for production houses: to engage the audiences to drive them to the theatres; to continuously evolve new ideas, better than their competitors. In a scenario when box office results are dependent on the marketing strategy, we can surely sense some creative war awaiting on the digital space!

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