Percept’s Jumbo hoopla: Marketing genius or gimmick?

MUMBAI: Aamir Khan and Akshay Kumar clash at the box office on Christmas. However, they’re both catering to an incongruent audience with their films Ghajni and Jumbo respectively.

Everywhere you go you see as much of Jumbo as Ghajini. Yes, that’s exactly the kind of marketing strategy that Percept Picture Company has adopted. The company has left no stones unturned as far as publicity is concerned. The marketing activity spreads far and wide right from puppet shows in schools to slots on news channels, merchandise, a tie up with Asian paints to name a few.

Jumbo, originally a Thai animation film (Khan Kluay) acquired from Eagle Videos by Percept for Rs 40 lakhs, has been re-packaged for India with voiceovers of actors like Akshay Kumar, Dimple Kapadia, Lara Dutta, Gulshan Grover and Rajpal Yadav.

Speaking to Businessofcinema.com, Eagle Video’s Surender Suneja says that the total cost of the repackaged film is around Rs 140 – 150 million (Rs 14 – 15 crores) including marketing. So is this super hyped movie just another marketing gimmick or actually a genius?

Percept joint managing director Shailendra Singh is visibly excited about Jumbo and has pinned a lot of expectations on it. “Jumbo’s release is a marketing genius for us because a lot of thought process has gone into the making and it has been packaged well. The entire ending has been changed to cater to the Indian audience,” he says.

Singh’s confidence and belief in the film is the reason why he has taken a small animation flick and converted it into a huge marketing activity by roping in a big star like Akshay. Moreover, the movie is being positioned as mainstream cinema rather that a children’s film. What’s more, the fact that it is being released along with the much awaited Ghajjni too does not worry him. “The film has a good energy, good music and the end result looks good. For all you know it may just open up a new page for Bollywood,” he opines.

While optimism is a good thing, realistically animated films have not done wonders at the box office in India. It is difficult to say whether this kind of marketing is really a smart move in the present scenario.

UTV Motion Pictures COO production Alpana Mishra concurs with Singh and says that if the film does well then it would “open up this side of the model” as the costs are higher to make an animation film and it takes anywhere between 18 months to three years to complete an animated film.

On the other hand, Toonz Animation CEO P Jayakumar feels that it’s not a very wise idea to put in huge money only into marketing. Crest Animation MD A K Madhavan is of the belief that only if the movie makes money, will this be called a smart move.

So the big question is will the celebration and joy of Christmas bring in joy at the box office too for Jumbo considering the fact that it is releasing with one of the biggest movies of the year? Madhavan says, “That should not be a problem for Jumbo if the product is good because both films are completely different.”

As far as the quality of the animation is concerned, Madhavan feels it’s difficult to judge since it was done in Thailand and one has only been privy to the promos as of now. He however feels that the characters are cute and have the potential to hold appeal.

Jayakumar is of the opinion that Jumbo should work as it caters to the family audience, whereas Mishra says that this being the holiday season, there is enough space for two films. “Additionally both the films are completely different,” she says.

Whether or not Jumbo will be able to recover the costs invested is difficult to say as animated films in India have not yet made that kind of money.

Jumbo is releasing all over India with 400 odd prints. According to Singh, Percept has spent about Rs 35 – 40 million (Rs 3.5 – 4 crores) alone on the marketing and another few millions on the music video featuring Akshay, which was shot at four – five different locales.

Singh says, “We’ve made no compromise on the video since it’s a great song with a great message, it’s about the confidence that everything will be all right.”

We’d say Amen to that!

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