Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Aamir Khan on marketing films-Delhi Belly to Qayamat se Qayamat Tak

Aamir Khan's marketing genius has always been the precursor for his movies going for box office history. He is able to raise the curiosity value of the film and does a pretty good of branding his films very well.

That's Aamir Khan for you, he knows exactly when to push (remember 2008, when Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi was releasing and every usher and ticketing clerk in almost every multiplex in the country did their jobs with Ghajini haircuts?), and when to hold back.

Incidentally, the name of the person who suggested the Ghajini haircut for ushers, an IIM worthy idea, will never be known. While his marketing and PR team say it was Aamir, the actor denies it, pointing out that "I'm sure I would have remembered if it had been my idea."

Ask him if his biggest marketing success has been himself, Aamir Khan the brand, nephew Imran Khan, or one of his films, and he dismisses the first two options saying, "I have never marketed Aamir Khan the person. I am as I am.

And I didn't market Imran; I marketed his film Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, just as I marketed Prateik with Dhobi Ghaat. I would say the tough ones to market were Taare Zameen Par and Peepli Live because Taare... was about children and education, and Peepli a social political satire with an all new cast."

Failure, for him, would have to be Mangal Pandey, not because the film failed but because it raised the wrong expectations. "The marketing gave the impression it was a patriotic film about one person, when actually it was a story about two people - Mangal Pandey and Captain Gordon - and their friendship and a failed revolution," he says.

"I was having a release after four years, and we got carried away by that fact. All the promos were about me, which further strengthened the impression that it was about Mangal Pandey alone. So though we got a great opening, our marketing was a huge failure."

And while Aamir's marketing strategies have spawned an IIM case study, he confesses to a fascination for the intangibles. "Marketing is just an extension of the storytelling that the film is," he begins, and then getting increasingly animated he adds, "You know how we say the audience smells out a film? What does it smell? That's an intangible.

But if you are excited about what you have to tell, the manner in which you reach out to people will touch them on an intangible level. The excitement in your voice, in your marketing plan, will communicate itself to the audience without you being aware of it. There is some intangible thing that gets communicated in the market."

Aamir might pooh-pooh away any mantle about being a pioneer in the field saying, "Lots of producers such as Raj Kapoor and Subhash Ghai marketed their films excellently," but Anirban Das Blah, MD of KWAN Entertainment and Marketing Solutions, has a different take on it.

"Aamir Khan and the distributors transformed the Indian marketplace with Ghajini," he says. "At a time when a really successful film did a business of Rs 70 to 80 crore, they came with this Rs 200-crore film, a quantum leap.

Since then, the most successful films have been those that do roughly the same amount of business. When a film does Rs 500 crore, that's when an earthquake will strike again and a new benchmark will be set.

Aamir understands everything to do with marketing - be it PR, events or the advertising. When he signs a film, there is just so much anticipation and that is the brilliant marketing of Brand Aamir."

According to Aamir, he has been involved in the marketing of his films right from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, but "it's in the last five years or so, more accurately from Taare..., that I have matured in my approach, in my understanding of the medium and the various platforms and my ability to use them for the benefit of the film." Happily for Aamir, this has also been the time when the opening weekend has become all important for the film's success and good marketing guarantees that.

But what is this marketing that Aamir knows? The man himself has no definite answers. "It just happens organically," he tries to explain. "You know how a good cook can never actually tell you how much of what goes into a dish? Marketing is like that. It's instinctive, dictated by the film. It's very important to have an ear to the ground and to be adaptable. If something isn't working, you need to change tracks and move on."

Speaking of tracks, Aamir has done an item number for Delhi Belly and taken on Katrina, Malaika and Salman for the sexiest item number tag. Brand Aamir is all set to grow bigger.


Post a Comment

Recent Comments