Bollywood Advertising

Rebecca Sudan and Soumik Parida
MICA - Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad

In September 2009, Amitabh Bachchan, one of the biggest stars in India's Mumbai-based film industry (aka Bollywood), wrote the following on his blog: "Marketing [of films] has reached such massive proportions, that an entire industry has erupted in and around [it]. The reliance on that initial weekend of business is driving producers to make sure no effort is spared to achieve [their] goal. And no matter what we may have to say in complaint, the system works. 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."

Bachchan should know, having been involved in a series of innovative marketing initiatives to promote his films. His remarks highlight the role marketing - and in particular a drive to find innovative new ways to connect with consumers - now plays in the Bollywood industry. India produces a huge volume of films in multiple languages, meaning new releases have a very short time to make their mark before the next big thing comes along. In this environment, smart marketing is crucial - and some of the strategies adopted by film marketers hold lessons for marketers in other categories.