Ranbir Named ‘Pepsi’ In Next: Branding Comes To Bollywood In A Big Way!

Ranbir Kapoor is the brand ambassador of a soft-drink giant

MUMBAI: The latest trend in Bollywood seems to be branding and cross-promotion of products, using the far-reaching influence of cinema. Right from Zandu balm and Fevicol, cinema seems to be the preferred medium of choice for advertisers and brand managers these days.

In-film advertising of branded content seems to be taking off in a big way in Bollywood, with media companies designing the content of the ad film and integrating it into the storyline of the film.

Says an agency which offers in-film advertising services, “In-film advertising helps a brand to be present in the content itself and hence becomes inseparable from the storyline. Such integration of the brand within the script of a film helps in delivering the brand message in an entertaining and engaging way. We closely study the story line and brand positioning for seamless and effective integration.”

Of course, out-and-out branding has been a done thing historically, with Hollywood films like ‘Terminator’, ‘The Amazing Spider man’, ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ etc concealing clever branding in the storylines. Brands like Nike, iPad Mini, Dominos Pizza, search engine Bing, Mini Cooper cars etc have featured in the above films.

However, Bollywood filmmakers are now going one step further, and inserting brand names into songs, scenes and even naming characters after well-known brands! This trend probably began with the item song ‘Munni’ in the 2010 super hit film ‘Dabangg’, which covertly mentioned Zandu balm as part of the lyrics.

Then came ‘Fevicol’ in ‘Dabangg 2’, again: the reference to the product was unmistakable. The Ranbir Kapoor starrer ‘Barfi!’ also had a sentimental brand value, where the protagonist was named after the old Murphy radios.

The Kapoor scion does seem to have a penchant for brands, for in his latest film ‘Besharam’ too, he will be named after a popular FMCG product. This time around, Ranbir will play a character called ‘Pepsi’!

Ranbir was cool as a cucumber when asked the significance of his on-screen names, when he said recently: “It depends on the director and the scriptwriter completely. I have no say in it. I think it’s just a coincidence that I get such names but I like them.”

Among the several reasons for this sort of advertising, brand managers insist this is the quickest, most efficient way to reach audiences, who have a tendency to ‘switch off’ or change channels during traditional ad slots.

Says UK-based digital placement firm MirriAd CEO, Mark Popkiewicz, “This is because when a consumer watches a show they are not ‘defensive’ against advertising as they might be with advertising online or commercials on TV – they are in ‘receive mode’ and are not blocking.”

Television too, has seen some aggressive product placement. One of the most popular shows on the telly right now is ‘Bade Achhe Lagte Hain’, which stars TV’s blue-eyed boy Ram Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar in leading roles. During the program, the protagonists are made to endorse certain products, like Garnier Color Naturals for instance, a hair-care product. Characters on the show praise the product judiciously, and this leads to covert branding and product placement.

In an effort to be unique and grab eyeballs perhaps, this trend in Bollywood is here to stay. Instant brand recall value with the added bonus of becoming a talking point, branding and Bollywood have formed a healthy new marriage of sorts, and are expected to coexist for some time to come.

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