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Rajinikanth, Kabali's marketing overdrive

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MUMBAI: Rajini Sir has proved lucky for them. Over the weekend, low cost carrier Air Asia announced the names of three fans who will be given a ticket each to fly to Bangkok and Kaula Lumpur and visit the location where Rajinikanth’s latest film Kabali has been shot. It also announced the names of 10 fans who came out tops in the Air Asia Kabali Video Contest thus winning first day first show tickets to the movie.

The Air AsiaKabali Video Contest commenced last month and entrants had to film themselves mouthing Rajani’s dialogues from Neruppa Da and upload the videos. Kabali has Rajinikanth playing a underworld Don who fights for Tamils in Malaysia.

However, the video contest was just one of the initiatives that Air Asia innovated along with Kabali producer-director Kalaipuli S Thanu’s V. Creations. The official airline association deal that the two signed has set a benchmark for film promotion and marketing in India – at least.

For the last fortnight or so, Air Asia passengers between Bengaluru, New Delhi, Goa, Pune, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Guwahati, Imphal, Vizag and Kochi, have been greeted by a special aircraft as they have walked on to the tarmac. The plane has the salt and pepper haired Rajinikanth splattered all over the exterior of the aircraft.

Come 22 July, the A-320 aircraft (which took about a month to design) will be flying exclusively between Bengaluru and Chennai. Passengers boarding the aircraft will be given Kabali memorabilia which includes T-Shirts and mugs, audio CDs and even tickets. They will also be able to munch a special Rajinikanth meal. Other merchandise that has been created to coincide with the film’s upcoming release includes: silver coins with the superstar’s image embossed on it and brought out by the Kerala-based Muthoot Pappachan Group. A Kabali Rajinikanth doll has also been designed by the producer and is being sold at Rs 999.

Air Asia, on its part, has disclosed that it will continue to fly the special Rajini aircraft much after the film’s release as a tribute to the thespian actor. The film features the veteran actor taking Air Asia flights on several occasions.

Apart from Air Asia, Kabali’s producer V.Creations has snared tieups with Mondelez for chocolates, PVR Cinemas for multiplexes, Airtel for mobile, Muthoot FinCorp for finance, VS Hospitals for health, Amazon for merchandise, and Emami for healthcare products.

The brand that Mondelez has chosen for the partnership is 5 Star. Special TVCs featuring the goofy brothers Ramesh and Suresh promoting Kabali have been created and have been running on social media and on television. Advertising panels on buses in Tamil Nadu touting the film with the tagline SuperStar ka 5 star and Superstar in 5 Star. Buses with LED panels screening Kabali trailers, teasers, songs have taken part in road shows covering colleges, schools and malls. The chocolate maker has also put out 18,000 cutouts promoting the film and 5 Star nationally in retail outlets and at the point of sale.

Keychains, posters, T-shirts, mugs, posters, the Kabali Rajinikanth doll are to be sold on the ecommerce platform as part of its partnership with Amazon.

Like other partners, the media partners agreed to extend the promotional period when the film release date was extended from 1 July to 15 July to 22 July.

Apart from Rajinikanth, the film stars Attakathi Dinesh, John Vijay, Dhanika, Koshire, Roshan, Nassar and Winston Cho along with Radhika Apte. Helming it is the young but successful director P.A. Ranjith.

Estimates are that the valuation of the various tieups that Kabali has managed is in the region of Rs 70-80 crore. The film’s makers are targeting a box office revenue of Rs 500 crore for the film which was made at a budget of around Rs 80 crore.

It is slated to be released in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, Thai, Chinese and Japanese. Broadcast, audio, dubbing, digital and overseas rights sales had already netted close to Rs 150 crore for V. Creations. The Hindi version of the film is being distributed by FoxStar Studios India and is expected to debut1,000 screens nationally. In the US, distributor CineGalaxy has lined up a 400 cinema hall release. The sourthern market is expected to see a release in about 2,000 screens even as Kabali is released simultaneously in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Rajinikanth’s previous two films Lingaa and Kochadaiiyaan did not do as well as expected at the box office. And questions were being asked whether Thalaivar is a bankable star. If the push that has been being given to Kabali courtesy its marketing tieups gets the cash registers ringing, the critics and naysayers will have been silenced.

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