New Delhi, Dec 24 (IANS) Aamir Khan created a secret identity on Facebook to promote his new movie '3 Idiots'. Megastar Amitabh Bachchan's 'Paa' also found a major presence on the internet through his blog and his Facebook fan page.
Move over TV, radio and print. Social networking sites (SNS), with their interactive and cost-effective features, are here as an ideal medium to promote movies.
'Internet's role in the promotion of music and films has been highly visible in recent years and it has grown significantly,' according to Rahul Sharma, vice president, Brand Solutions, ibibo.com.
Bachchan, for instance, had a promotional application tool specially created on ibibo.com inviting people to share their stories of father-son relationships even as 'Paa' hit the theatres.
'Online promotion of the music album or film encourages new fans and gives a lot of free publicity. It certainly drives the overall sales volume of the product. In addition, it allows them to reach a massive audience,' Sharma told IANS.
Nabeel Abbas, CEO of movie marketing firm Epigram, says the internet has gained importance in the last two years as far as film promotion is concerned.
'One can create a discussion forum on the internet as opposed to other forms of marketing where the information is open to only being seen and consumed. The interactivity factor on the internet leads to exponential popularity for a film,' said Abbas.
Filmmakers are leveraging the opportunity with fan pages on websites like Facebook, Orkut and Twitter, blogs, by building special official websites as well as by tying up with networking sites like Zapak and Ibibo, which offer various customised applications and games related to a movie.
Gaming portal Zapak.com has tied up with '3 Idiots' and is offering content in line with the movie that primarily targets the youth.
Their website - www.idiotsacademy.com - takes the user to different rooms of Idiots Academy like the director's office, lab, hostel, canteen, class room and also the toilets. Each room on the site offers interactive applications based on the movie.
'Internet and mobile are increasingly becoming preferred destinations for youth. With over 50 percent of India below the age of 25 years, I believe it is imperative for movies to have a strong and concerted digital strategy,' said Aamir.
The proposition also turns out to be highly cost-effective for filmmakers.
'If a print campaign costs anywhere between Rs.1 million and Rs.4 million, an average TV campaign could cost no less than a Rs.10 million and a very good TV campaign could be even Rs.40 million, depending on a producer's budget.
'Whereas an internet-based campaign costs almost 10 percent of a TV campaign and offers the added advantage of interactivity,' explained Abbas, who recently promoted 'Rocket Singh - Salesman of the Year' on the digital platform.
Agrees Vishal Chinchankar, assistant vice president, Media, Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group.
'SNS is a platform that offers the users' point of view. It helps build a brand community compared to other platforms. It's also one of the most cost- effective channels that offers a reach of around 23.5 million active SNS population (figure according to Sept: comScore report),' Chichankar told IANS.
The cast and crew also take initiative to promote films through their personal blogs and profiles on SNS.
Debut director Shawn Arranha sends regular updates about his film 'Hide & Seek' to his Facebook followers, while Bachchan often discusses his film projects and tidbits about their making on his blog www.bigb.bigadda.com.
So do Aamir, filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, actress Shilpa Shetty and actor Akshay Kumar. Other actors like Priyanka Chopra, Uday Chopra, Mallika Sherawat and Preity Zinta use their Twitter pages to keep their fans updated about their films and other engagements.
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)