‘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.