Are you among the lucky few who have escaped villainous Ra.One? If Yes, what made you resist it? How did you defy the might of the king (khan) himself? Did the notion of a Bollywood superhero not attract you? Was Kareena Kapoor not desirable enough? Or did the year long “Promotional Blitzkrieg” not create enough curiosity for you to peak out of your little bunker? Whatever the reason if you’ve held your own against Ra.one you’re no less super hero yourself.
Ra.One, our very own Superhero, actually Super villain has been meddling with our lives for almost a year now. It’s on the television, radio, newspaper, on your way to office and even at Coffee or a Smoke Break. That’s going a bit too far, no one ruins our Caffeine kick. Or food to think about it. McDonald Ra.One Meal anyone?
Ok, enough cynicism, lets get objective here – Is this really working? or is it just a sanity sink.
Ra.One as a movie wanted to do things differently & they wanted to bring something to the Indian audience which hadn’t been seen before. They pulled all stops to achieve that. But the difference between dreaming up something and the tangible entertainer was a bridge to far.
Here are our reasons:
The Product :
First and foremost, The Movie is an absolute disaster. I speak to you as a person with normal sensibilities (yes, believe me) who painstakingly watched the 150 mins of it, just so he could present a clearer picture of the phenomenon.
Shahrukh Khan however deserves the salesman of the year award. I guess he realized early that the only way to safeguard this venture was to take the audience on a joy ride even before the movie was released.
Its apparent that Khan is a confident marketer who does not bet short and has come up with such an enormous mass media campaign. Its like a big boy burger dripping in all directions, you wanna get a taste of the enormity more than anything else. Without such a campaign an audience with only Krishh as precedence would not have stepped inside the hall to watch the movie apart from die hard SRK fans which one must accept are the size of a country themselves.
Having said that, Ra.One did something that not many production houses in India attempted, it took a chance.
With no standards to match up in the Indian film industry, Ra.One was left to pave its own path.
360 degree campaign analysis
Poster, Teaser Trailer, and Theatrical Trailers – released at the right moment of time. With so much hype over this mega project, the first look of the movie generated the right amount of buzz at the right time.
The Nation wide 5 city tour – Hygiene in a star crazed nation this helped in building awareness about the project and it drew a direct platform to communicate with the stars of the movie.
Promotional Events: Highlighting one of the biggest pre-launch aspects of the film Ra.One team brought in international R&B star Akon (mind you in his prime) to collaborate with Vishal & Shekhar to produce a nationwide hit Chammak Chalo (well proportioned Kareena held her own in the equation). With Akon coming down to India and supporting the movie and the music, it was the right kind of exposure the music of the movie needed.
Comic book : G.One The Journey Begins : Ra.One became the first superhero movie that brought out its own comic book version. Firstly, unlike the States, the comic book culture is on a decline in India. Gone are the days of Nagraj and Super Commando Dhruv. Although they also had a digital version of Ra.One graphic novel but still the rage about this format never caught on.
Brand Tie-Ups : Brand Tie Ups are a common venture with production houses these days. But Red Chillies Entertainment (RCE) took this to new heights. Right from Formula One race, Nokia, Godrej Consumer Products, Coca-Cola, & Mcdonalds. Ra.One’s presence was everywhere. It practically lead to an overdose which garnered more public outrage than acceptance.
Merchandising : (Toys, computer accessories, t-shirts, apparels, stationery, coffee mugs, wrist bands, watches etc) : RCE had to realize that merchandizing works better when the movie is a success. Their promotional strategy had the dolls up and ready even before the movie came out. That is good in some sense as they might have got some sales before the release. After Diwali we reckon though no one in their right mind would like to have a G.One stuff squeezed beneath their pillow.
Social media – YouTube – Google+ : Today when their target audience (15-30yrs) spends their ideal time online on social networking sites, this was the right move. But the quantum of hits on Ra.One channel was very low. Apart from Chammak Challo, no other video really captured the attention of the audience.
Games : RCE came out with Ra.One game for the PS3, but with big titles such as Battlefield 3 and COD lined up who would want to play Ra.One. The game itself was thrashed by the gaming industry on the grounds of a being just another publicity stunt rather than providing a true and exhilarating gaming experience.
Outdoor Advertising : This was where Ra.One had to hold on to its horses. The whole in your face strategy seemed drawn to long making people used to the stereotypical superhero creative. The Delhi Metro was turned into a Ra.OneMobile so to speak. Everywhere you went you saw either ShahRukh Khan or Ra.One. If this was to be the length why not tease the audience with OOH?
Overall the blatant yet effective nature of Ra.One marketing has lead a bad taste in the mouth which not only reflects poorly on the creative forces behind the project but also the unevolved nature of mass audience sensibilities.
Is this Strategy Sustainable?
It looked promising, but when it comes to the Film industry this mass media campaign had to be backed up with a strong product which can be seen in the decline in the sales after the first few days. The strategy made people go watch the movie, but with the word of mouth criticism spreading through the masses, audiences were made well aware of the fact that all this promotion was just a desperate attempt to get people to watch the movie. Some halls even booked 2 screens of the film so it was always 1 in 3 options of what you could watch when at the theater. Having said that this should dilute Shahrukh Khan’s brand value but his awareness of his audience means this could be spun into a profitable entity creating enough anticipation for the next release.
Is the consumer being mislead?
Yes there is no doubt about that. The quality of hype is far superior to the quality of the product which is extremely weak. So there is bound to be a gap in expectations created and met. It took time for the consumers to look through the veil the marketing team created but soon they have become wiser . .
In the future, audience would be more careful on the grounds of being exposed to such a marketing campaign.
Having said that, the consumers are like a bipolar kid; you never know how they would react.
In purely business terms Ra.One has made the money it invested even before the release. A pattern with big budget cinema in India. But it sure scrapes the banner in the long term with mixed opinions and feelings of the consumer being cheated.
We hope other production houses learn from this sham rather than following it blindly.
Heterogeneity of our market still means though that some of you did definitely escape this monstrosity, encouraging those creating better cinema. Sympathies with those who got sucked in or chose to.