Ra.One, the most expensive Indian film till date, could end up becoming the most advertised film as well.
Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akthar and Abhay Deol went on a domestic road trip for promoting their recent film, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Shah Rukh Khan has gone quite a few steps ahead – literally – to create a buzz around his latest home production Ra.One, short for Random Access – Version 1.0.
SRK will do a 36-city tour, which will include several foreign destinations, and one of the highlights of these events will be a 3,600-feet-long fan mail collecting audience wishes and messages.
In the process, Ra.One, the most expensive Bollywood film till date (co-produced by his Red Chillies Entertainment at an estimated cost of Rs 150 crore), could end up becoming Bollywood's most advertised movie as well.
Seven months before its release, SRK kicked off the promotions with a 10-second trailer during the World Cup semi-final match between India and Australia, while Ra.One's first look was unveiled by the star on his Twitter page on January 2011 along with an ad in a leading daily.
"SRK's strategy is similar to several Hollywood biggies where promotions start several months before release. Typically, big star cast movies and mega-budget releases such as Bodyguard, Singham, etc start their marketing around eight weeks before release. But SRK has taken marketing to a whole new level for a Bollywood movie," says Pritie Jadhav, chief operating officer, P9 Integrated – a division of Percept.
The movie's marketing budget is around Rs 35-40 crore, of which Rs 12-15 crore has been earmarked for online promotion, an advertising executive involved with the promotion of the movie said on condition of anonymity.
Print ads have been booked in all leading publications while 1,700 billboards will show the superstar in his superhero gear – the role SRK plays in the movie.
The star is also planning tie-ups with several Formula One teams to sport Ra.One logos at the upcoming Noida Grand Prix and is also in talks with McDonalds for toys.
Luxury bike Ducati, apparel brand Tommy Hilfiger, Videocon, Tag Heur, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. and Volkswagen AG, among others, have already signed up for Ra.One and several others are in talks.
According to estimates by at least two brand promotion executives involved in negotiations, advertisers have to shell out between Rs 75 lakh and Rs 6 crore, depending on the nature of the association. The movie could have brand associations worth Rs 30-35 crore, the highest for any film so far.
Red Chillies will soon be launching G.One store on the film's official website, which be selling merchandises related to the film. Products include pencil box, piggy banks, lunch box, notebooks, limited edition toys, sippers etc. The store will also have a loyalty programme where members can earn revenues by placing links on the web site which advertises G.One Store or specific products on it.
"These products are designed in-house by Red Chillies, and have been manufactured in China. By October, 50 products will be sold in more than 3,500 stores and e-commerce sites," said an official involved with the movie.
There will so be a jewellery line inspired by the symbol of Ra.One, comprising accessories for men and women, including necklaces, bracelets and mobile charms, with each piece having a distinctive blue colour that is a part of SRK's outfit in the film.
SRK has already tied up with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe to create a PlayStation game, and Indiagames to develop social game and digital comics on mobile platforms . The storyline for these has been developed by the star himself.
The game, which was designed with the active participation of the star, will not be based on the movie line up. This seems to be a well thought out strategy, as it will keep the interests alive for the actual movie; while at the same time will provide the players with a flavour of the upcoming grand release.
"Ra.One is pumping in much more money on promotion than any regular Bollywood grosser," said GroupM India's managing partner Hiren Pandit. "In that sense, it's a first."
The scale of the movie is grand. While the music has been composed by Academy award winner Hans Zimmer and has several songs sung by R&B singer Akon, Ra.One will be released in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu in 2D and 3D formats during Diwali. The science fiction flick has over 3500 VFX shots.
According to brand experts, the marketing blitzkrieg for Ra.One is a classic case of integrating a film into every aspect of people's lives. For instance, be it clothing, automobiles, games , sports , merchandising, there will be a part of the film involved.
Some brand experts, however, point out the flip side as well. Audience expectations build up with such a high intensity campaign and the risk is that even a small disconnect can boomerang. That's not the climax the producers would look forward to.