‘In-film’ branding has emerged as a new revenue model for filmmakers. It has helped to reduce publicity budgets of films by a minimum of 15%
The subtle and seamless placement of brands like Volvo and Mahindra in Bollywood megahit '3 Idiots' has brought into focus the effectiveness of film-branding as a good revenue model reducing publicity budgets, ensuring desired effects for both the movie and the product, reports PTI.
"Brands ride on films. In-film branding has emerged as a new revenue model for filmmakers. Filmmakers have realised that break-even of a film is difficult (to achieve), and the need of the hour is to increase the revenue model," Sajaay Moolankodan, senior director, GoFish Entertainment Pvt Ltd, which conceptualised the brand integration of '3 Idiots', told PTI.
"Agencies like ours understand the demand of the script, integration of brands and pitch for various brands. There is a cost given by the brands—Rs25 lakh-Rs75 lakh—depending on the placement. The package deal is between Rs2 crore-Rs3 crore which includes a cash component and co-branding activity. It benefits both (product marketers and filmmakers) and reduces the publicity budget of the film by a minimum of 15%," he said.
However, he said that brands and filmmakers need to be careful to ensure that scripts are not tweaked to fit in brands. "Sometimes, brands want on-the-face placement. But we convince them that such a thing would kill the film as well as the brand," he said.
Two-wheeler Mahindra Flyte made its debut in Bollywood with '3 Idiots' with a few scenes involving Aamir Khan riding the bike with two pillion riders—Sharman and Madhavan.
Mr Moolankodan said that his agency understood the brand as well as the film language. Hence, his recommendation to clients—be it the producer or the brand manager—to avoid loud and force-fit placement and to look at the marriage between the script and the brand only if the script permits.
"'3 Idiots' has become a perfect platform for filmmakers and brand managers to realise the effectiveness of seamless placement within films," he said. In-film brand placement is like surrogate endorsement for the brands. "It works both ways," he said.
The model is not evolved as yet like in Hollywood films. The filmmaker cannot promise 100% visibility to the brand.
Certain scenes may be cut during editing. Scripts can undergo changes during the shooting stage as well. Brands are compensated most of the time, but sometimes they are not, he said.
"In Hollywood, scripts are locked before the film goes on the floors and a set commitment to the brand is followed. In India, brands are sceptical of being attached to films."
Post '3 Idiots', brands are aware of film-branding as a good option. Marketers are willing to break the clutter and reach out to newer audiences, he said.
The Volvo SUV XC90R design was another placement in the film.
“Raju Hirani, director and co-producer of '3Idiots' had clearly briefed us that he wanted a red colour premium SUV as any other colour would clash with the backdrop of Shimla and Ladakh,” Mr Moolankodan added.
"The Volvo XC90 in red had not been launched in India by then and Volvo specially got two red SUVs air-lifted from their headquarters in Sweden to facilitate this integration," he said.
Similarly, an Airtel Internet data-card and its signature tune were ‘placed’ during an important sequence while Sharman Joshi is in hospital and Aamir tries to connect to Web cam chat through this data-card.
Apart from this, the entire cast used Samsung mobiles and these gadgets were showcased in the film. Air India was showcased in the opening sequence of the film. The film’s mahurat was shot in an Air India aircraft.
Mr Moolankodan said that in film brand placements, it is imperative for all brands to look at placements only if the product can naturally fit into the script.
Even though film-branding is not the main medium for marketing of brands, it is cost-effective and acts as a bonus value, he said, adding that “70% to 80% is spent on TV, press and outdoor (advertising). Film sponsorship accounts for 2%-3%," he said.
Out-of-film associations also help to increase the visibility of the film after the release. "Out-of- film association is (like) taking the concept of the film and footage for a co-branded television commercial," he said.
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The company expects that the Indian government will soon take a decision on the relaxation of the cabotage policy, given its huge investment in the Vallarpadam port project
A relaxation in the cabotage policy to improve trade volumes at the planned Vallarpadam port and other major ports in India is being considered. Company officials from DP World are hopeful about such relaxation soon.
Dubai-based DP World, one of the largest marine terminal operators in the world with 49 terminals, is the private operator set to run the terminal at Vallarpadam in Cochin port in India. The port is being developed as a trans-shipment hub on a public-private partnership model. The project involves a total investment of Rs2,200 crore, with an investment of Rs1,000 crore by the Indian government and Rs1,200 crore by DP World.
The trans-shipment hub is being built in phases and the first phase is expected to be commissioned by June 2010. On being questioned whether contracts with various clients for using this port have been finalised, Anil Singh, senior vice president and managing director for the subcontinent at DP World Pvt Ltd, said, “We are just waiting for the Indian government to relax the cabotage issues. We will sign the contracts after that (the relaxation of the cabotage policy).”
“Their proposal is under consideration. We will have to verify their projections. We need to see what lies in favour of the overall economy. When the issue is under consideration, it is a little difficult to opine. They (DP World) are talking of business that will be added to the existent business available in Indian shipping. Their projection is that it is a win-win opportunity, as it will bring (in) added business. Now, we need to discuss it with the remaining stakeholders. The only problem will arise when people object on the differences in the share of added business that each one will get. I hope we will be able to convince them (stakeholders) that it is an overall win-win situation,” said Dr Satish Balram Agnihotri, joint director general, department of shipping.
For the port to be commissioned in 2010, such relaxations in the policy will have to be worked on soon. “We are very hopeful (that the relaxation will happen before the commissioning date), because it involves a huge investment from the government,” said Mr Singh. “We should be able to decide on it before June 2010,” added Dr Agnihotri.
DP World officials claim that the new transhipment hub will help attract around a million tonnes of cargo towards India. “This will help bring back India’s cargo from ports like Colombo and Jebel Ali,” said Mr Singh in a presentation made at a Confederation of Indian Industry conference on costal shipping.
Cabotage is the transport of goods between two points in the same country. At present, the cabotage policy in India allows first preference to Indian flagships over cargo. Foreign ships are allowed to carry this cargo only when no suitable Indian flag vessel is available for the same.
Relaxation in the cabotage policy is expected to bring more trade to Vallarpadam and other major ports in India. However, PTI news reports on the cabotage policy suggested that barring of foreign ships on the Indian coast for security reasons is being considered.