Munnabhai means marketing

MUMBAI: As the media environment gets cluttered, brands are vying that much harder to get consumer attention. In a scenario like this, product placement in films is one of the easy ways to get that wavering consumer attention.

And that is exactly what brands like WorldSpace, Go Air, Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Kurkure and Good Day have done with the much awaited movie starring the inimitable duo of Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi – Lage Raho Munnabhai – which is all set to hit the screens on 1 September.

“Brands have been woven seamlessly in the film so as to not interrupt the script flow. However, I feel that brands need to become more open and daring. If they are ready to take the risk then a whole lot of things can be done, which are out of the box,” says Vinod Chopra Films head marketing Thomas T George.

In this day and age, when money is eternally in short supply, product placement is a great way to finance a film. However, as far as Lage Raho… is concerned, George informs that with the revenues coming in from product placements, only the marketing budget of the film was helped and not the production budget. “We were not dependent on product placements for our production budget. If we didn’t have the production budget, we wouldn’t have gone ahead and made the film,” he emphasizes.

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According to information available with, Lage Raho Munnabhai has been made with a budget of Rs 50 million (Rs 15 crores). (However, the actors and the director gets a share of the profits of the movie on a profit sharing basis). Out of this, the marketing budget of the film was in the range of Rs 40 – 50 million (Rs 4 – 5 crores). While the producers spent approximately Rs 2 million (Rs 20 lakhs) on marketing the movie, the rest was taken care of by product placement deals.

However, George was also quick to inform that no product placement deal was inked if the producers didn’t see any brand fit or if it interfered with the storyline. One such example is that of a leading confectionary brand, which wanted Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi endorsing their candy in the movie. “We were not ready to do that and hence we said no to the deal, which was worth Rs 40 million (Rs 4 crores),” says George.

On the other hand, for shooting one of the songs in the movie, the producers wanted the backdrop of a petrol pump. However, to shoot at actual petrol pumps could be hazardous and moreover it meant that the pump where the shoot would take place would have to be shut down for a day or two. That meant losing revenues of close to Rs 700,000 – Rs 1 million.

After much deliberations the producers inked a cash plus barter deal with Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), wherein the entire song sequence would be shot at the IOCL petrol pump near RK Studios in Chembur. The brand has about a minute of screen space in the film.

Some IOCL pumps in smaller cities will also be sporting cut outs of Lage Raho Munnabhai. IOCL wanted to have their Extra Premium brand in the spotlight in the film and that’s what one gets to see most in the song sequence.


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Another seamless product integration in the film is that of WorldSpace Satellite Radio. The cash deal was worth Rs 5 million (Rs 50 lakhs). Actor Vidya Balan is a radio jockey in Lage Raho Munnabhai and that’s where WorldSpace steps in.

With Go Air, it was more of a barter deal. The script of the film required the protagonists to go to Goa and there is a 10 second spot in the movie, which shows the Go Air craft taking off from the airport. Go Air, in turn provided the crew with tickets.

With outdoor major Bright Advertising, Vinod Chopra Productions inked a barter deal and a Bright hoarding on the Mumbai skyline can prominently be seen for a few seconds in the film. In return, Bright gave 18 hoardings to the producers for about 15 days.

On the other hand, MSN Live Messenger is also associated with Lage Raho Munnabhai and has a presence in the film. Besides that MSN is also the official website partner for the film and will have live chats with Munnabhai and Circuit.

Brands like Kurkure and Good Day also make their presence felt in the movie. Kurkure plans to have an on-pack film related contest for a limited amount of time.

Channel [V] has been sporting screen bugs with the Lage Raho Munnabhai branding, which will be on for a month. NDTV on the other hand, will be conducting exclusive interviews with the cast and crew of the film. Four episodes of NDTV’s Cinema India as well as the weekend specials will focus in Lage Raho Munnabhai.

Apart from this, Lage Raho Munnabhai has also tied up with Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), wherein the Reliance Energy (electricity) and Reliance Communications (telephone) bills will sport the movie branding.

At the time of filing this report, the’s team present at the premiere of Lage Raho Munnabhai opined that the brands had been seamlessly woven into the movie so as not to upset the viewers’ sensibilities. The film received rave responses from industry stalwarts present at the premier.

Going by that verdict, the brands are sure to benefit from this association.

Watch this space. We’ll talk to brand custodians and tell you how they’ve gained – or not—from their involvement in the movie. And our call? We’ll tell you how they’ve gained.

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Hetal Adesara

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