Chak De! sets trend for embedded advertising

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MUMBAI: In the times where several corporate entities and brand marketers seemed to be shying away to avoid blatant in-film placements that ticked off their target customers, Yash Raj’s recent hit ‘Chak De! India’ has become a successful experiment in the art of embedded advertising.

Consumer brands such as McDonalds, Puma, Bisleri and even a cement brand such as UltraTech Cement were involved in subtle, seamless and integrated in-film brand placement in this Shah Rukh Khan blockbuster.

In the film, UltraTech Cement is the official sponsor of the Indian women’s hockey team, which is coached by a character portrayed by Shah Rukh Khan. The dynamic hockey players, who wear the company’s branded official gear, defy all odds and beat the top international teams to be crowned as the world champions. Even though there is no product relevance or synergy, the in-film placement initiative has been conducted quite uniquely without a single reference to the brand in the film and without being too obvious or blatant or in-the-face.

UltraTech Cement Ltd chief marketing officer O P Puranmalka stated, “UltraTech Cement, positioned as the Engineer’s Choice, forged a unique association with ‘Chak De India’ to unleash the power of subtle, seamless and integrated in-film brand placement. Since our brand is virtually seen in almost every frame when the World Cup matches are played, it has helped us reinforce the brand attributes such as ‘global winner’, ‘modern & youthful’, ‘tech-savvy’, and yet ‘intrinsically Indian’ amongst our core target groups across India.”

Advertising gurus claim that in-film advertising is a very shaky business and most marketers had a tendency and temptation to go overboard with the result that the film would end up becoming a long advertising commercial. Others say that since marketers always tried to stretch their advertising rupee in order to obtain the maximum bang for their buck with the result that brand suffered.

However, most advertising professionals vouch for the fact that films, by virtue of being quite engaging, are one of the cost-effective and effective mediums for advertising. Puranmalka explained, “If a consumer watches a particular scene and the advertisement is well embedded into that, it will remain.” He also refers to the fact that the girls beating the boys fighting sequence in ‘Chak De’ has been referred to as the McDonald’s fight scene merely because it takes place in one of the outlets. Again, there is no mention of McDonald’s in the entire film as it has been seamlessly embedded.”

Talking about the benefits of the association, Puranmalka added, “The UltraTech team was confident of obtaining substantial mileage from this association with ‘Chak De India’. The success of the film and of our initiative is in sync with our unique marketing strategy, which shows how corporate entities can obtain optimum mass media mileage by integrating the brand into the storyline without going overboard.”

Academicians from Universities also said that currently, embedded advertising still needs to grow in India. “It is like a deranged marriage, the brand most often does not fit into the film the way in which it should. The reason is that most filmmakers still do not think of it as a revenue stream,” they said.

Niteen Bhagwat from Interface spoke about the advantages of in-film advertising. “I think film content of any kind can be used to build brands. The last one year has been rather active in terms of in-film placements and branding through films. However, the placement of brands such as UltraTech poses a big challenge especially considering that there is no obvious benefit in sticking to stereo-types and force-fitting the Brand in film’s theme or storyline,” he said.

To build on the stupendous success of the film in the first week post release, UltraTech Cement, and other Brands such as Fairever, rode the wave with multiplex activations. The brands put together games in the foyers of the multiplexes screening the movie where the movie-goers could win prizes and also reinforce the association. With such movie associations, it is inevitable that the movie gets promoted in a bigger manner than otherwise.