Bollywood embraces digital

19 May 2011

MUMBAI: Excel Entertainment has become the first Bollywood film studio to promote a Hindi-language film by using only mobile and online marketing.

Excel struck a deal with mobile phone operator Aircel to promote its latest film Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara (You Only Live Once), due out on July 15th.

Two three minute trailers will be sent free to Aircel's 55 million subscribers in an innovative marketing push.

This marks a significant advance from previous mobile film promotions, which were mainly limited to text messages and music and ringtone downloads.

As is increasingly the norm for new Bollywood film releases, the mobile promos will also be supported with a dedicated Facebook page as well as a film specific website and trailers on YouTube.

Excel's decision to use digital marketing reflects media trends. The move towards digital is also an attempt to reverse the 20% decline in annual revenues experienced by the Indian film industry during the last three years.

India is the world's fastest growing market for mobile usage with 752.2m subscribers at the end of 2010, representing a 43% annual increase.

This makes India the second largest cellular market in the world after China.

IT research company Gartner expect this trend to continue over the years to come, and predict that 82% of India's 1.2 billion population will own a mobile phone by 2014.

Excel executives hope to capitalise on this success through association. Producer Ritesh Sidhwani described the collaboration at a Mumbai news conference on Sunday: "I think it will work fantastically because mobile reach is much wider."

Sidhwani added: "Many people and especially the young crowd watch promos on the internet, so we felt it was better to go with this plan."

Bringing the film industry up to date with technology is supported by the critics.

Taran Adarsh from commented: "You need to reach out to the consumer and what better way than a cell phone?"

In a recent Warc Exclusive paper, Rebecca Sudan and Soumik Parida of the Mudra Institute of Communications pointed out that India's film and television industry contributes Rs 28,305 crore ($6.2 bn, €4.3bn) to the Indian economy.

The Indian film industry has also become the largest producer of films in the world - in 2009, it produced 1288 feature films in 24 languages.

Data sourced from Economic Times/; additional content by Warc staff