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Brand placements in TV serials to follow in-film placements

MUMBAI: The phenomenon of in-film advertising is helping to build brands and proving to be a revenue-spinner for several ad agencies. Film placements are currently raking in anything between Rs 5,00,000 to Rs 50 million for the producers. Top marketing and advertising agencies are also considering options of negotiating with TV channels and producers of TV serial to explore various possibilities. Currently, TV channels forbid producers of programmes in conducting deals with advertisers for placing their products within the story line.

Star India COO Sameer Nair says: "We are open to all such options which will enhance our revenues. However, the advertisers have to deal with us directly rather than approaching independent producers." One wonders how Star allowed Balaji Telefilms to use serials such as Kutumb and Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki to promote Tusshar Kapoor and his films. Radio City, a division of Star India, is also promoted on Neena Gupta's serial Kyo Hota Hai Pyaar.

Incidentally, several ad film marketing agencies are cashing on the concept of marrying statistics with showbiz. Leo Entertainment has bagged new films such as Pooja Bhatt's Jism, BR Chopra's Baghban, new films of producers such as Shahrukh Khan, Ramgopal Varma, NR Paschisia and Ramesh Sippy. Leo Entertainment is already an independent profit-centre due to the revenues obtained from films such asKaante, Raju Chacha and Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai where it leveraged brands such as Coke, Thums Up, Maaza, Provogue, Castrol, Tata Tea and Blowplast.

For the forthcoming release Jism, Leo Entertainment has developed an innovative association with Zingaro, a liquor brand. In fact, Leo brokered a Thums Up Taste the Thunder deal for the film Kaanteand won an award for being one of the Top 10 product placements of 2002.

"There is an ardent need for producers to involve a marketing and communication consultant such as Leo Entertainment simply because we are the 'creative suits' who can marry showbiz with statistics. With a backing of Rs 1000-million that the Leo Burnett brands command, we can leverage various opportunities for enhancing the visibility of brands," adds Leo Entertainment head Sanjay Bhutiani who has worked with several ad agencies and worked with brands such as Bajaj Auto, Kelloggs, Videocon, Balsara and Hallmark. Through his own initiative, Bhutiani evolved a business model on film marketing during the process of handling the promotions of the first feature film handled by the agency - Raju Chacha.

Advantages of film placements:

* Big stars at a fraction of the costs

* Films transcend geography, class and culture barriers

* Clutter-free environment

* Not subject to surfing, zipping or muting (unlike in TV and other media)

* Catches people in a receptive mood

* revived and revisited several times as a film's length always get lengthened

* Target specific

* Opportunities for cross-promotions

Since February 2002, Leo Entertainment, a division of Leo Burnett India, has been providing an entire gamut of services such as marketing strategies; in-film placements; creative campaign; outdoor, print, online advertising; ground promotions and contests.

In the US, the entertainment pie is US$480 billion and this mammoth spending has resulted in the mushrooming of megaplexes and gigaplexes. The consumers spend an entire day in these complexes which include theatres, casinos, screens, hotels, restaurants, bars and night clubs. The entertainment industry in India is estimated at Rs 75 billion and slated to increase to Rs 250 billion by 2005.

The new trends in Bollywood include corporatisation; multinational studios localising their content; enhanced production values due to higher production costs; Bollywood films making an impact on the international arena; increased investments in promotions and marketing entertainment properties; and more brands jumping onto the entertainment bandwagon.

Brands and films:

However, there is evidence of shortened attention spans and a greater effort to break through the clutter of multitudinous brands and media vehicles. The best way to deliver the message is to catch the customer off-guard when the rational defences are down. The best way to do so is to use the emotional gate rather than the rational gate. The rational gate examines the advantages, benefits, features and seeks value for money; the emotional gate is all about trust, love, identification and belief. It has been noticed that films operate at the emotional level. These aspects have been leveraged by brands such as Coke, Pepsi, Lux, Airtel, Hyundai, Bagpiper, Lux wherein movies and brands flash identical messages at their target audiences.

There is a need to examine synergies between the brands and films. The successful integration of product placement within the film's storyline has a long history - the first example being the yellow Rajdhoot "Bobby" bike used in Raj Kapoor's superhit Bobby. Hollywood also leveraged brands such as BMW (Bond movies), Jaguar, Ford, Ray Ban (Tom Cruise in Risky Business and Mission Impossible), Starbucks coffee, AOL, AT &T.

Films are a different medium and one bad placement can do more damage than 10 good placements. Artistic integrity is crucial for successful brand placements and the operation has to be woven into the script. Sometimes, unreasonable clients demand more footage although research has shown that a two-minute clip can effectively deliver a message in a credible manner. The placement should be a natural fit and shouldn't be contrived and unnatural.Each effective tie-up between a brand and a film involves hectic negotiations of around 3-6 months.

There is no fixed formula but the factors that are taken into consideration during the negotiation stage include: cast and credits; size of the projects and the producers; timing of the release; brand impact; number of screens during release and post-release phase; and possibilities of brand associations through contests and promotions. Depending on the content of the film and its story line, the agency can sketch a profile of viewers who would flock to see the movie. Then the agency approaches all those brands who could appeal to the targeted viewers. This is followed by a 360 degrees marketing plan for cross-promotions during the various stages of a film's release.

Also read

Need a hit - all about marketing and communication

Entertainment brands are illusory, elusive and magical - Star India COO Sameer Nair

Bollywood producers need specialised marcom agencies

Radio provides unique options to advertisers

Leo Entertainment capitalises on in-film product placements

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