Movie marketing plans that once largely included press meets, city tours is now dominated by influencer-led film promotions and digital strategies all thanks to coronavirus impact.
Sony Pictures Entertainment India which released Spider-Man No Way Home in the Indian market, onboarded influencers including one of the top YouTubers Ashish Chanchlani who has 12.6 million followers on Instagram and 27.2 million subscribers on YouTube. The superhero movie is inching closer to Rs 200 crore mark at the Indian box office.
Digital dial up
"During the lockdown and its aftermath, almost the entire movie marketing mix tilted towards digital, something which was rarely the case in the pre-Covid era. We have seen quite a few innovations in the digital marketing efforts of recent movies and I expect this to be the norm going forward," said Siddharth Anand Kumar, Vice President Films, Saregama India.
Lizandra Pinto, Organisational Strategy Director, White Rivers Media, a digital marketing agency noted that smarter, effective digital marketing from media spends to influencer marketing, promotional video content is the new normal in movie marketing.
"Reels and Instagram engagement has skyrocketed post the pandemic. Also, more than wallet share, the time share has increased too for digital, she said.
Kumar added that targeted social media spends, influencer advertising, digital ads now take a major chunk of marketing budgets.
Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO and co-founder, TheSmallBigIdea, a digital marketing agency which has worked on promotion of films like Ayushmann Khurrana's Bala, said that digital is only second to TV and commands 30-40 percent of the marketing budgets, which used to be 20-30 percent pre-Covid.
Shahir Muneer, founder of Divo, a digital media and music company, which has content partners like film production houses pointed out that in the southern film market, digital had only a 10 percent share pre-pandemic.
"Pre-COVID, producers of a south film with Rs 3 to 4 crore marketing budget, would spend Rs 10 lakh on digital. Now, for any of the recently released A-lister south film, the offline spend is zero. For outdoor hoardings there are restrictions hence that is very limited. Earlier, outdoor, TV, print used to have combined spend of 90 percent and digital was 10 percent but now it (digital) is 30-40 percent," he said.
Muneer who is working on the promotions of the upcoming big venture RRR shared that distributors of the film for marketing plan asked them first about what their digital strategy will be.
COVID's impact on offline promotions
Kumar, who thinks that traditional forms of marketing like out of home advertising, city tours and reality show appearances are slowly getting back in the mix, noted that in the eventuality of a third wave and yet another period of restrictions on movements, movie marketing efforts will again tilt completely towards digital.
"Even with a slight tint of normalcy which seemed to be returning, there are very minimal city tours and other offline appearances happening. The reliance on digital is still very high," said Pinto.
Muneer noted that movie producers that are looking at direct to digital releases don't feel the need to market the film as streaming platforms are spending on promotions of movies they have acquired.
"For direct to over the top (OTT) platform release, on ground activations, radio, offline marketing are not happening. Media buying that traditional mediums used to get, they are not getting for direct to digital releases," said Muneer.
Drop in movie marketing budgets
He added that producers of small and medium-size movies who are opting for theatrical releases are also averse to spending a lot on movie marketing.
"Only for couple of upcoming big movies we are seeing press meets, full page ads in newspaper. There is caution for (movie) marketing at the moment. Producers are not going gung ho like pre-COVID times. If producers are expecting a movie to not run beyond 1-2 weeks, they are being conservative on marketing spends," said Muneer.He added that overall marketing budgets remain impacted due to the changes in the film industry post the coronavirus outbreak and that spends have dropped by around 10-15 percent. For non-digital segments, the drop is as much as 50 percent.