Now, actors resort to marketing gimmicks to promote films

Marketing activity for non-mass media promotions has now caused quite a flutter among the movie-making fraternity and has triggered a new race for fresh and more aggressive marketing methods

Taking a cue from the advertising industry, Bollywood actors are now seen adopting unique and innovative marketing strategies to promote their films, reports PTI.

Gone are the days when the marketing and publicity of a cinematic venture was limited to illustrious film posters, giant billboards, movie merchandising, television advertisements, pre-release media hype, etc.

Superstar Aamir Khan travelled across the country in disguise, Shahid Kapoor and Genelia D'Souza spent a night together in a car, Amitabh Bachchan read news on a TV channel, while actress Neha Dhupia threw condoms at a college crowd, all this to publicise their films.

After these below-the-line activities, marketing parlance for non-mass media promotions, were successful in creating a positive buzz around these films, it has now caused quite a flutter among the movie-making fraternity and triggered a new race for fresh and more aggressive marketing methods.

"Bollywood is now using the latest marketing techniques to attract more eyeballs. Previously they used to think they knew everything about marketing films and assumed that just putting up billboards and media advertisements were enough to promote their films," advertising guru Alyque Padamsee told PTI.

Mr Padmasee says that he approves the current trend in Bollywood. "It's good for the industry that they have finally realised the importance of marketing and are innovating. Whether you are selling a movie or 'bhelpuri', you need to have proper marketing," he says.

As part of his unique strategy promoting '3 Idiots', Aamir Khan roamed around the country for two weeks in disguise and challenged his fans to spot him.

Similarly, to hype his pet-project 'Veer' and to change his 'bad boy of Bollywood' image, actor Salman Khan had recently announced a hunt for unsung heroes who had performed acts of heroism in their lives.

Also, megastar Amitabh Bachchan (often called ‘Big B’), who is cast as a media magnate in upcoming film 'Rann' was recently seen reading news on a TV channel giving a year-end news roundup.

The film's director Ram Gopal Verma says he plans to distribute a ten-page daily newspaper 'Rann Times' till the commercial release of the film.

"Good marketing has produced good results at the box office. That old belief that the merit of the film shall eventually emerge victorious has long since been overridden.

By the time you wait for the merit to show its face, five other films have shown their merits," blogged the Big B.

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Airtel DTH ad misleading, Tata Sky tells ASCI

The Consumer Complaints Council of ASCI has concluded that Airtel’s advertisement is misleading, as the viewer of the TV commercial is led to believe that Airtel Digital TV has superior picture quality because of MPEG4 or DVBS2 technology

Direct-to-home (DTH) television services provider Tata Sky has approached the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) seeking action against its competitor Airtel Digital's ad campaign, alleging that the advertisement was misleading, reports PTI.

The campaign 'Dil Titli', starring Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan, was launched in August 2009 by Bharti Airtel's DTH subsidiary and the ad claimed that the service provided superior picture quality because of Moving Picture Experts Group-standard 4 (MPEG4) and Digital Video Broadcasting-Satellite-Second Generation (DVBS2) technologies.

"We are trying to convince the media and the public at large that the claim that MPEG4 technology provides superior picture quality is false. It is just a compression technology and makes no difference to the picture quality," said Tata Sky chief marketing officer Vikram Mehra.

The ASCI, in a reply to Tata Sky's complaint, said, "As per their (Consumer Complaints Council - CCC) decision, the complaint has been upheld as the advertisement contravened Chapter 1.4 of the ASCI code. The CCC concluded that the advertisement is misleading, as the viewer of the TV commercial is led to believe that Airtel Digital TV has superior picture quality because of MPEG4 or DVBS2."

When contacted, an Airtel Digital spokesperson said, "We did receive some correspondence from ASCI and we have responded to that. Our stand is that MPEG4 and DVBS2 are some of the many features that we offer, that helps us offer superior picture quality in comparison to ordinary technology."

ASCI is a self-regulatory organisation of the advertising industry and deals with consumer and industry complaints against advertisements.

MPEG-4 is a patented collection of methods defining compression of audio and visual (AV) digital data, while DVB-S2 is a second generation standard directed to optimise satellite transmission and reception of digital content.

DTH operators in the country use different compression technologies ranging from MPEG2 to MPEG4 to provide digital television signals to consumers through satellite. Compression technologies determine a service provider's number of channels to consumers, but have no impact on video quality.

Airtel Digital, which was launched in October 2008, now has pan-Indian operations.

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Business hotels are hoping to ring in the good times

Business hotels are hoping to ring in the good times with more travellers demanding 'smart hotels' with prompt service and good communication systems sans the luxury frills

With the industry gradually emerging from recession, business hotels are hoping to ring in the good times with more travellers demanding "smart hotels" with prompt service and good communication systems sans the luxury frills, reports PTI.

"The forecast is very encouraging. We can expect a steady increase in occupancy level for the year ahead and can see a 20% growth from the third quarter.

Business travellers are looking for smart hotels with prompt service standards and good communication levels. Luxury is not the major concern for a large number of travellers,” said Mr Rupam of Radha Regency.

Prakash Ryon, corporate general manager, Nandhana Grand Koramangala and Nadhana Hometel, which runs a chain of business hotels, agrees with this view. He said, "We are seeing an uptake of 15% in occupancy compared to last year."

Mr Ryon said that there has been a lot of corporate movement, with recession receding and recovery of the market. "The luxury market and increase in domestic travellers in December also added to (the) numbers,” he said.

"We are seeing corporate negotiations from existing firms which use our hotel for middle management and senior management executives. These corporates are negotiating for our high-end suites now,” he said, while explaining the flow of senior management from five-star hotels to business hotels.

Mr Ryon said that business hotels make sense to corporates as they have begun offering good facilities minus huge cost tags, which include complimentary Wi-Fi facilities, dinner coupons, free pick-up and drop to airports and a more lavish and elaborate breakfast spread.

"The price difference between the upper-end and mid-market segment is around 50%," he said.

Explaining the move towards business hotels, S Raghunath, who handles marketing for India for Electra Polymers (UK) and who is a frequent business traveller, said, "Most travellers are middle management (executives). Hence, business hotels suit our requirements.”

"Nobody has (the) time to go around for a spa or sauna. Basically most businessmen are off for their business meetings by 8am and return late. What they look for is basically the bed and breakfast concept, which is what these hotels offer,” he said.

"Moreover, hotels in India are overpriced with average pricing being around $200, while in Thailand the best hotel room comes at an average of $80,” Mr Raghunath said.

Company guest houses have their own maintenance issues, said Raj Rajkumar, managing director, ADC, whose company has turned to business hotels to lodge overseas customers.

"Company guest houses mean hiring personnel. Keeping such guest houses no longer makes sense on account of high rents, power bills and housekeeping tabs," he said.

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