Hindi movie marketing budgets down 30 percent

MUMBAI: As is happening in any other industry currently, Bollywood companies too are striving to curtail their cash outflow and increase cash inflow.

The budgets allocated to movies earlier have already been renegotiated, and now another prime area to come under the axe is the marketing and promoting expenditure of movies.

Some recently released movies already shrunk their promotional budgets and vast campaigns. Most other forthcoming movies of 2009 have readjusted their marketing and promotional budget to bring spends down by approximately 30 percent, point out marketing heads of various filmed entertainment companies.  


But the key here isn’t to reduce spends and get going, the problem is only half solved yet. If a movie’s promotion and hype is low, then it also becomes a point of worry, as it may not be effective in getting audiences in large numbers in cinemas and therefore hamper cash inflow.

“Yes, there are budgets cuts in marketing forthcoming movies, but one has to compensate it with better ideas,” says Dharma Production marketing head Arun Nair. In such a scenario, the way out is to couple your judicious spends with innovative marketing strategies. Every movie’s marketing strategy should comprise of two – three absolutely innovative ideas which catch people’s attention.

Intelligent TV and PR oriented campaigns can do a lot of good to a movie’s promotion. For instance, ushers at multiplexes posing Aamir Khan’s Ghajini hairstyle was low on cost, high on promotion.

“Approximately 70 percent of a movie’s revenue such as theatrical, home video and satellite are impacted by its marketing buzz, so the marketing has to undoubtedly be very effective,” says Studio 18 VP marketing, distribution and syndication Priti Shahani  


Since various brands, companies, movies are keeping low key on advertising; the environment isn’t cluttered now as it was at this time last year. This has therefore automatically reduced the requirement of noise a movie’s marketing should make.

“A movie’s message that took six weeks to be communicated earlier will now be done successfully within four weeks. Movie marketing is not about frequency anymore, it is about reach. We have to reach effectively to our target audience,” says UTV marketing head Shikha Kapoor.  

Traditionally in the months of February and March movie release and promotions are low due to the school and college exams. This time last year, in March 2008 five movies released including Subhash Ghai’s Black & White, Race and One Two Three. In March 2009, more than 10 movies including Dhoondte Reh Jaaoge, 13 B, Little Zizou, Aloo Chaat, Aa Dekhen Zara etc. are slated to release. But even collectively these 10 movies may not make the same level of noise as last years movies.    


Movie marketers media planning and buying has definitely been impacted which various marketing heads call as a rationalized procedure now. Marketing heads are challenged to reinvent their strategies. Group M general manager Rajeev Berry says, “There has been a definitive change in the media buying habits of movie marketers and they are being cautious now due to the low sentiment in the market. Marketing focus will now shift back to the consumers from the film trade.”  

Even as low cost effective promotion is a priority, but no media in the country has slashed its advertising rates until now. “Full page ads in newspapers and outdoor hoardings do not translate into incremental revenues. These just act as two second reminders and build a movie’s brand, but may be avoided. Instead this money may be channelized to mass media through an effective ad which reaches out to larger number of audience. It is necessary to think intelligently on media planning and buying,” says Shahani.       

A focus on the use of above the line or below the line media differs from movie to movie and company to company. A smart mix of both will have to continue for the upcoming releases of this year.

Dos and Don’ts: Don’t be scared to do it

Even in times of slowdown, UTV promoted its latest film Delhi 6 across mass media in the country with few alterations in its strategy to suit the current marketing environment.        

Last year, Dostana was the only film that did not make its actors Abhishek Bachchan, John Abraham and Priyanka Chopra appear in a number of reality shows on TV.

Studio 18 did not put up outdoor hoardings for its films Singh Is Kinng, it chose to redirect these spends towards mass media, such as TV.

In times like these, it is only natural for any marketer to rope in brands for co-branded partnerships in order to fill a void. But a brand that does not match a movie’s theme may do more bad than good. For instance, an otherwise suave marketer Shahrukh Khan roped in brands Tupperware and Century Ply for Billu’s co-branded promotions, both of which had no direct connection with the film.   

Have it, flaunt it. Kambakkth Ishq and Kites have been in news since the time the movies even went on floors. Unveiling the presence of actors such as Sylvester Stallone, Brandon Routh, Barabara Mori etc. in the film has helped the film gain great visibility across media for free.