They Call It Marketing!

Isn’t the star power good enough? /IANS

Vinod Mirani

New Delhi, Dec 10 (IANS) What we need in the film industry is writers who can turn out a decent script that appeals to all classes of the audience. That has not happened, so the makers have to keep devising new gimmicks to promote a film. Isn’t the star power good enough?

Really speaking, films never needed marketing because they have a ready and keen viewership and, still, new-generation whizkids try to deviate from the traditional and foolproof promotion strategies and come up with complicated ideas to promote a film that serve no purpose.

The recent one is about how the promos or trailers are released on digital platforms before a film’s release.

As if calling these trailers promos or trailers was not enough, now they are named in a manner that they coincide with a film’s theme or title! Oh, yes, they were also called teasers for some time.

The trailers of ‘Dunki’ starring Shah Rukh Khan, for instance, are titled Drop 1, Drop 2 and so on! It seems the film is about illegal migration in countries such as the UK and the US and the activity is described as ‘donkey flights’ in the North. This is also known as ‘kabutarbazi’ in some sections.

‘Dunki’ is yet to release and the connection of naming or ranking the trailers as a series of ‘Drops’ with the film’s story remains unclear so far. The tragedy is that those unaware of this bright idea but searching for promos of ‘Dunki’ on YouTube will still have to type in the keywords ‘Dunki promo’!

I don’t know who thought of this idea because you may publicise a film, but how will you tell people that when you look for ‘Dunki’ promos, kook for Drop 1 and so on!

‘Dunki’, though, is not the only one to have people with such grand ideas. There are quite a few other films being promoted this way. I have often mentioned ‘bhed chaal’ in the film industry. If one filmmaker does or tries to do something different, others follow him and make it a trend.

The ‘Jawan’ trailer was launched as a Prevue. The ‘Pathan’ trailer as ‘Pathan ka conversation’ and Tiger 3 as ‘Tiger ka message’; for the ‘Dream Girl’ trailer the name was ‘Pooja ka kiss’. Films such as ‘Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan’, ‘Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar’ and ‘Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani’, all followed and dubbed their promos as something or the other. Did it help?

The thing is that the number of hits on promos released on YouTube are seen by many more people than those who watch the movie. So, hits on an online promo are not a measure of viewers attracted to the cinemas and, hence, nothing to gloat about.

What worked when there was no Internet and no social media? They relied on street publicity. Posters of varied sizes — 30″x40″ or six sheeters (5’x10′) and so on — were plastered all over the cities. There were no radio jingles yet, forget television.

The big attractions in those days, though, were trailers played in the cinemas. These promos were so exciting that people going for a movie made sure they reached in time so as not to miss the trailer of the forthcoming film. They just about summed up an upcoming film in three minutes with onscreen captions such as Drama, Romance, Music, Emotions, Comedy and Action. The prospective viewers instantly decided if they were going to catch that film.

The Internet and social media are not devised to spread lies or deceive. What good are these hits on an X post or YouTube promo because it is common knowledge that an army of bots are engaged to produce these hits.

What are the cinema chains doing in the name of marketing?

On Monday, the fourth day after the release of ‘Animal’, they took prospective spectators who came to the booking window by surprise when the admission rates were hiked suddenly and arbitrarily from for Rs 150 to Rs 300 out of the blue in a matter of minutes.

By the way, the online booking site still claimed that Rs 150 was the rate and the booking chart showed an almost empty house. There were some unhappy people at the booking window and they made sure the video went viral. This was contrary to the normal practice of reducing admission rates on the Monday or Tuesday after a film’s release.

Now, is this any way of attaining the set target, which nowadays is anything between Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,000 crore? I think it is easier to fake figures on social media like it is done with the figures of all the major films lately, instead of cheating people with ad hoc admission rate hikes.

Suppose a young lad had somehow put together Rs 300 for two tickets to take his girlfriend out on a movie date, but comes to the cinema to learn that he cannot afford the revised rates. It would be awkward for him and a real letdown!

Now, PVR’s newly acquired property at the Jio World Plaza in BKC, Mumbai, boasts of being India’s “first cinema with bar and lounge”. So what?

Multiplexes have food plazas and, if you order, the snacks are delivered to your seat. And they are located within the cinema lobby. As for the lounge and bar, it is not the same as a food plaza and can’t serve alcohol at your seat. It is just another facility attached to the property.

Publicising it as a multiplex with a bar is misleading. Airports have bars and lounges, but you cannot carry your drink to the flight. At least not in India.

BKC is a purely commercial area with few residential buildings. More residential properties are still in the development stage and the present population of the area would not be more than 80,000. The area gets so deserted post office hours that even transport is hard to find.

Being in a commercial area, lounges and bars may still attract patrons who wish to discuss business or unwind over an after-office drink or two! The same cannot be assured for this six-screen multiplex.

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