MUMBAI: The Advertising Club Bombay's Value Creation seminar on
marketing entertainment and their growing inter-dependence gave
glimpses of the future of film production in India and the gradual
transformation that the process of film-making is currently undergoing.
The panelists agreed that Bollywood needed marketing lessons in
order to capitalise on the merchandising opportunities and in-film
PNC chairman Pritish Nandy, while talking about his personal experiences
in successful marketing of entertainment, mentioned that intangibles
were the heart of the business. He added that the interface between
filmmakers and third-party marketing/advertising agencies working
together to come up with different branding opportunities was a
Writer director Ashutosh Gowariker of Lagaan fame felt that films
have not been able to leverage marketing or merchandising opportunities
because the filmmakers didn't manage their time well and got drawn
into distribution-related routines closer to the release phase.
He added that modernization has still not made such of an impact
in the traditional ways of the film industry. Gowariker also seconded
the view that the third-party marketing/advertising agency could
take on the responsibility for informing the producers about the
various possibilities for leveraging merchandising.
Pritish Nandy Communications (PNC) will make eight movies till
March 2004 and 12 movies till March 2005. Nandy mentioned that more
and more viewer movies will be the order of the day in 2003. He
also envisaged that corporate participation in film-making will
increase in the near future. He felt that corporates don't have
any special skills but could play a vital role in handling the risks
better and cost-efficiencies. He added that many financers had badly
burnt their fingers and movie-producers need to make choices that
financers are comfortable with. Gowariker added that the corporates
and third-party marketing/advertising agencies need to study the
distribution network diligently.
Nandy stated that the distribution people down the line (in remote
parts of India) played a very big role in the film hits and misses.
He added that these distributors had an uncanny ability to 'smell
what is right' and the money-making opportunities therein. He lamented
the fact that the entire film or its details are not shown to the
various rungs of the distributors. In the near future, he envisaged
a situation wherein the distributors would get involved in the early
stages of conceptualization of the film. Gowariker added that the
scripts must be previewed and tested amongst an audience comprising
of distributors and viewers.
Nandy mentioned that the only predictable thing about the film
business was its innate unpredictability. He pointed out that conventional
wisdom still guided and ruled scripts but it was slowly changing
into a search for offbeat themes. He opined that many producers
and filmmakers were struck in a time wrap, believing that they could
connect with the viewers through the usage of traditional ploys.
But Nandy mentioned that the society was in a state of flux. He
pointed out that the viewers choices and preferences varied from
villages to towns to mini-metros to metros; even within metros different
pockets of viewers liked different fare. He also felt that every
new film took off on an age-old theme; re-packaged the rediscovered
theme by restructuring the styling; and changed the execution to
touch innate sensibilities that were representative of the contemporary
society. Nandy gave examples of movies such as My Fair Lady
and Pretty Woman. Nandy admitted that filmmakers must initiate
consumer research during the pre-release phase which would involve
aspects such as "Is the movie the first choice?" and "Why
would I see the movie?". He also stated that film-goers loved
a certain element of surprise and the 'magic of discovery'. Nandy
added that the Indian audiences were ready for change and "surprises"
and commented that anything could work if it was well made.
Nandy mentioned that producers must involve an outside advertising
or marketing agency to obtain a different perspective and present
positive criticism. He admitted that the third-party intervener
wouldn't have the same passion as the film-maker and sometimes could
bring out negative aspects. Although producers and film-makers are
sensitive to criticism, they must absorb the relevant rationale
of the interveners as the final communication message would develop
from the confluence of the views of the film makers and the interveners.
Gowariker added that the marketing strategy of a film depends on
the content. Gowariker opined that a definite marketing strategy
for different phases of the film's release must be clearly outlined
at the conceptualization stage itself.
Nandy also mentioned that the traditional streams such as audio
rights had hit a dead-end. However, the current breed of producers
and filmmakers could choose and pick from a large menu of sponsorships
and branding opportunities during the pre-release, release and post-release
phases of each film. Gowariker added that the marketing plan should
comprise of several options catering to different scenarios of a
film's fate - in case the film is hit or if it is a semi-hit or
flop. Gowariker offered the example of Lagaan wherein the
cricket match event between cricketers and film stars held after
the film's release evoked more interest in the film itself and led
to repeat viewings. Gowariker however rued the fact that they missed
out on various merchandising opportunities for Lagaan. However,
he added that the filmmakers mustn't compromise with their initial
concept line. He emphasized that content can never take a backseat.
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