SRK is promoting his film, Zero, with Alexa.(Photo: Twitter/RedChilliesEnt)
SRK is promoting his film, Zero, with Alexa.(Photo: Twitter/RedChilliesEnt)

For Bollywood promotions, tech’s the way mahi vey!

Film promotions are making use of digital platforms and technology in a big way, Bollywood is now an integral part of the audience’s daily lives
By Etti Bali | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 18, 2018 05:48 PM IST

Film promotions are becoming bigger, more tech-savvy by the day. Films like 2.0, Thugs of Hindostan, Sanju, Sui Dhaaga and PadMan have used digital platforms and technology in a big way to reach audiences, taking them far beyond the big screen and into the common man’s daily life. The latest example is the Shah Rukh Khan starrer Zero. Alexa, the voice skills assistant, will now play trailers, dialogues, jokes, trivia and shayari in Bauua Singh’s (SRK’s character) voice.

In addition to this, the film’s team is also running a contest on social media wherein, by recording a video or writing a shayari for the device in Bauua’s style, and uploading it using #BauuaOnAlexaContest, fans stand a chance to win merchandise and meet the star cast. They have also tied with instant messaging platform WhatsApp to create special stickers with the film’s characters.

Zero is now on WhatsApp with stickers. (Photo: Twitter/RedChilliesEnt)
Zero is now on WhatsApp with stickers. (Photo: Twitter/RedChilliesEnt)

Binda Dey, marketing head, Red Chillies Entertainment, says, “We wanted to use his (Bauua’s) voice in a big way because he has a very distinctive tone of voice. With Alexa, you can actually have a conversation with Bauua. SRK enjoyed creating this whole voice piece. He understood how this device works and how people use it. He is a marketing mastermind and adds a lot of value to the plan. Whenever he sees something innovative, he adds value to it to make the content more interesting.”

While the star cast goes on promotional tours, the traditional routes are not enough to make a film stand out. A strong buzz is generated through innovation. Trade analyst Atul Mohan, says, “The marketing team has to adapt to new things. How you pitch your product and do collaborations to take it to the next level is important. Alexa is the next big thing to happen to India now. WhatsApp is used practically by everybody. As we become more dependent on technology, movie promotions are also bound to take that route.”

Dilip RS, country manager, Alexa Skills, Amazon India, was earlier quoted as saying, “Zero is one of the most anticipated movies of 2018 and I’m glad to see that the creators have chosen Alexa to help fans engage with Bauua”.

A 100ft-tall hot air balloon with images of Rajnikath’s character and the film travelled across the world. (Photo: Twitter/2Point0movie)
A 100ft-tall hot air balloon with images of Rajnikath’s character and the film travelled across the world. (Photo: Twitter/2Point0movie)

In the clutter of new releases and extensive promotions, how does one ensure that their film makes an impactful first impression? Filmmaker Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, who directed Pink (2016), says, “You have to do something through promotions that people notice it. You have to make an effort so that you can get a position in your brain. You have to know who your audience is. You should know what you want to say.” At the time, Amitabh Bachchan had penned letters to his granddaughters, Navya Naveli Nanda and Aaradhya Bachchan.

But extravagant promotions and innovative strategies cannot always guarantee a film’s success, as was evident with films like Thugs of Hindostan and Pihu. The opposite is also true; sometimes, films have done well even without large-scale promotions. “Promotions do create brand awareness, but the audience has to feel connected to the movie. You have to integrate everything in such a way that it creates a connect,” adds Mohan.

Thugs of Hindostan tied up with Google Maps with an image of Aamir Khan’s character on his pet donkey helping users navigate. (Photo: Twitter/TOHTheFilm)
Thugs of Hindostan tied up with Google Maps with an image of Aamir Khan’s character on his pet donkey helping users navigate. (Photo: Twitter/TOHTheFilm)

Out of the box

Thugs Of Hindostan: The film tied up with Google Maps and when users would make use of the software, they would see an image of Aamir Khan’s character Firangi sitting on his donkey, navigating and helping the user with the desired route.

2.0: A 100ft-tall hot air balloon with images of Rajnikath’s character and the film travelled across the world.

Sanju: The film’s team came up with face filters on Facebook where users could choose to look like the character’s avatar.

Sui Dhaaga: The film’s team ran the #suidhaagachallenge on social media in which many Bollywood celebrities took part. The challenge was to thread the needle and actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar and Rajkummar Rao took part in it and posted the videos on social media.

Padman: The #padmanchallenge was quite successful on social media, with a lot of Bollywood celebrities, including Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Arjun Kapoor, Ayushmann Khurrana and Aditi Rao Hydari posting photos with sanitary pads.

Judwaa 2: Actor Varun Dhawan shared a verified Twitter account of his character Raja from the film and would share updates.

Interact with Etti Bali @TheBalinian

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