Innovative PR, Marketing Needed in Bollywood Post Lockdown

Digital innovations have become the order of the day for marketing in a post pandemic entertainment industry.

3 min read
Stills from <i>Sooryavanshi</i> and <i>83</i>

The pandemic has altered a lot of things, including a course correction in the entertainment industry. With over 100 films releasing in a year in the Hindi film industry alone, the expenditure towards P&A (Prints and Advertising) had mounted to a huge amount, along with spends on things that were not really converting into footfalls in theatres.

The pandemic has brought in a new normal for the people in film business. Digital innovations have become the order of the day, and personalised social media interactions between the star and their audience have become commonplace. Most importantly, people are increasingly recognising the importance of a good story to convince moviegoers to return to theatres.

Year 2021 has started on a hopeful note, as the central government has allowed cinema halls to function at 100% occupancy while adhering to safety protocols. The announcement of release dates for many big budget films has given further hope for the industry to bounce back. Is it the time hence to revisit public relations & marketing campaigns that are integral to such releases?

Raj Malik, Business Head at Miraj Creations that has two big films lined up with Sujoy Ghosh as a collaborator, adds, “The post-pandemic phase for film PR & Marketing is likely to be innovative with a strong skew towards the digital mediums (social media and internet). These online spaces will provide unique ways for the audience to interact with their favourite stars and will smoothly compliment the touch-and-feel methods like crowd based events, launches, photo-ops etc. In fact, the digital medium can bring the audience closer to the celebrities, since the potential for instant popularity is immense, if some material goes viral.”

“The spends on traditional mass media for film PR & Marketing will see a steep decline, as content creators would like to be watchful on expenditures which are not measurable, and more targeted towards the film trade. The digital space visibility also throws up rich data analytics which is useful to measure the impact of the innovations, and implement learnings,” says Malik.

As many big films will be aimed at garnering a good box office number, It is a whole new world and could very well shape the way the industry looks at monetising the spends when it comes to pre-and post-release hype.

For those who have been directly involved in the PR and marketing of films, it is time to mix and match the best from the past, and innovate for the future.

"We all have learnt a lot during these challenging times. Exciting stories and innovative ways of reaching out to audiences would be the name of the game, which I believe would be a good change,” says Hema Upadhyay of 1H Media Consultants.

A leading PR agency, 1H Media Consultants is working on Sonam Kapoor's Blind, Sujoy Ghosh’s adaptation of Kabuliwala and Madhur Bhandarkar’s just-announced India Lockdown among other films.

“We need to closely measure the vibes of how people are responding to a trailer, poster, music or the film as a whole, since content remains the biggest draw. Though one misses the gatherings at promotional events that I am sure will get back to the system soon; one definitely needs to cut costs that were being spent only because it was a norm. Multiple city tours before the release would not be necessary when you can connect with the audience pan-India and across the globe digitally.” adds Upadhyay.

“However once the footfalls return to cinema halls, the reminder mediums like promotion through cinema outlets and other form of advertising will return too. But as I said, the spends would happen wisely.” she says.

Thinking out of the box, innovation and catching as much audience attention as possible are the ways forward. After all, 2021 is going to be a year when the audience would need to be convinced to step out of the safety of their homes to make their way to theatres.

Neeta Shah, partner at Pulp Fiction Entertainment, a leading marketing and brand alliance company that has worked on films like Sanju, 102 Not Out, Chehre and Bhuj says, “Marketing would be no more about spending huge advertising monies on template marketing. Campaigns will become much tighter, one will have to think how to have more impact with limited expenses.”

“Thematic marketing ideas, relatable and more one-on-one strategies would be the need of the hour. Brand alliances would still work as that is a win-win situation for both the film (in saving its advertising cost) and for the brand (in terms of getting visibility). Marketing will also be skewed towards digital innovations, as the audience has been hooked onto the digital medium in this last one year,” she says.

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