Indian Express: New ways to lure audiences to theatres


by Natasha Sahgal

Gone are the days when movie posters and commercials were all that was needed to entice the viewer to watch a film. Today you can listen to Kareena Kapoor’s fashion tips on your phone, read Imtiaz Ali’s blog-posts about filming Love Aaj Kal or pretend to be Akshay Kumar and perform dangerous stunts in front of the computer, all before you set foot in the cinema hall.

With around 500 million Indians with access to the Internet, it’s not a surprise that movie marketing budgets are now being directed towards this new medium. “The number of Internet users are growing by the second, movie makers cannot ignore this revolution and have now started to take full advantage,” says Neeraj Roy, CEO of Hungama Digital Media.

According to Roy, most movies have started to dedicate at least 10-15 per cent of their total marketing spend on the digital medium. “While Hollywood films easily spend 30 per cent, the Indian makers will soon realise the great impact it can have. It won’t be long before the online spending will increase,” he says confidently.

The figures tell the same story too. The website of Ghajini had over 3 lakh unique visitors a month before the release, Saawariya had hundreds of followers on Twitter and sites like receive 100 million page views each month. It’s clear that Indians are now going online to get their fill of Bollywood.

There was a time when the only form of online marketing was on social media networks, which is basically spreading the word free of cost on sites like Facebook, film forums and blogs. “But production houses have realised that the response they get is really good and so they have slowly started to spend money to make themselves visible and alive online,” explains Moksh Juneja, an online media catalyst. This change is extremely visible by the number of image ads of Kambakkht Ishq and Love Aaj Kal that are doing the rounds of Indian websites for the past month. These spaces are usually bought for a period of time or are paid for every time the user clicks on an ad.

The biggest advantage of online marketing is that it can be targeted towards the right audience. “For example, when you pay for an ad on Facebook, you can choose to target the age group, sex and even interests of the users. This way you know your ad is being showed only to the right people and your advertising budget is not being wasted,” explains Asfaq Tapia, Communication Head from Pinstorm Technologies.

If you happened to log on to MSN before the release of Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na you wouldn’t have forgotten Imran Khan knocking on your computer screen to ask you to watch the film, the Hanuman videogame had hundreds of children glued to their screens and debates on Aamir Khan’s look in Ghajini are still going strong online.

The film plots may be hackneyed but ways of luring audience to the cinemas are hyper-creative.

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