Actor Aamir Khan was perhaps the first star in Bollywood to send out personalised messages, when in 2008, around the release of Ghajini, some journalists received a handwritten note from Aamir, scribbled on the back of their own photographs. Cut to today – other Khans seem to realise the power of personal touch and are using technology to make their fans feel special.
For instance, this R-Day, actor Salman Khan sent a personalised message with his digital signature to whoever tweeted to the actor using his latest film, Jai Ho, as hashtag. And the fans were elated. “I know it’s not the star actually doing it, but it does feel nice to read my name on the poster with a message autographed by him,” says Aakanksha Singh, a student. In fact, an app is being used to generate these digitised signatures.
However, it was perhaps The Board of Cricket Control in India that got this trend going, when they started a campaign offering a personalised message with the digital signature of Sachin Tendulkar to whoever tweeted #ThankYouSachin hashtag. This was just before the cricket legend retired in November 2013. Talking about the initiative, Sanjay Patel, secretary BCCI, says, “We have always believed in the power of mobile, digital and social networks.” The hashtag generated about 3 million tweets and the digital autographs were viewed more than four million times.
Clearly, the stats impressed others too, who are now viewing this as a strong marketing tool. Thus, the yet-to-be-released Happy New Year, starring actor Shah Rukh Khan, has become the first film in the country to give out personalised posters to fans. “The personalised digital poster was a unique innovation, which seems to have set a new benchmark for fan experience,” says Venky Mysore, the CEO of SRK’s entertainment company.
It’s a win-win situation for both the stars and their fans. “The stars want to reach out to their fans, but it’s not ­possible to address each one personally. So this helps them make many fans happy at the same time. No one’s complaining,” says a publicity manager to a ­popular Bollywood actor.