SRK's superhero power: Turning 'Ra.One' to marketing gold

SRK's superhero power: Turning 'Ra.One' to marketing gold

Anusha S        Last Updated: September 27, 2011  | 15:59 IST

Anusha Subramanian
Everybody is now well aware of how Bollywood films are marketed and promoted. Today, stars - be it big or small - are involved in marketing and promoting their films across various mediums.

Shah Rukh Khan is no novice to this and has always been considered a savvy marketer of his films, himself, his cricket team or his business.

This time around, he is leaving no stone unturned and associating himself with all the possible brands for his home production Ra.One -short for Random Access version 1.0.

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Co-produced by Red Chillies Entertainment at an estimated Rs 160 crore, Ra.One is considered an expensive Bollywood film only after Rajnikanth's Enthiran and could end up becoming the most advertised film as well.

So what is it that SRK has done? He kicked off the promotions of Ra.One in January this year, when he unveiled the first look on his Twitter page. The star followed this up with a 10-second trailer during the World Cup semi-final match between India and Australia. This was done almost 7 months prior to the film's release in October.

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There are several firsts in the promotion of this SRK film. For instance, there will be a 3,600-feet long fan mail, collecting audience wishes and messages, as he travels to 36 cities across the world to promote Ra.One.

For the first time, the producers sold the telecast rights of Ra.One's star studded music launch for reportedly Rs 10 crore to Star One. It was simulcast on the channel on the day of the launch.

Even brands that SRK does not endorse are associating with Ra.One. One such is Western Union, a leader in global payment services, which will soon launch a million-dollar global mass-media campaign in association with Ra.One. Reason: To connect with millions of Indians working abroad. It encompasses TV, radio, print and outdoor advertising as well as local activities at Western Union's agent locations. It's a win-win deal for both as both Ra.One and Western Union will get mileage.

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Another interesting thing, never done before by a Bollywood film, is the association with Google's YouTube. Google-YouTube has launched a custom built movie channel for Ra.One, which will host promotional video content and special extras for Ra.One premiere and red carpet events planned in London.

Shah Rukh Khan will also be among one of the first Indian celebrities to be on the Google+ platform and engage his fans.

"For Ra.One, I wanted to leverage the full potential of digital media and create an experience on YouTube and Google+ that has never been done for any Indian film. I am personally working with the Google team to create a destination that my fans can enjoy from anywhere in the world," the actor recently said at the launch of the initiative in Mumbai.

Leveraging the movie's hi-end graphics and special effects, the channel will also host games, digital comics and unique contests where participants get a chance to create Ra.One promos from clips, music and dialogues of the film. These will be provided in an easy to use interface and the participants will compete for the most views to get a chance to meet the star himself.

It is understood that SRK is also planning tie-ups with several Formula One teams to sport Ra.One logos at the upcoming Noida Grand Prix, as well as with McDonalds for toys.

All brands - be it luxury or small - want to piggy back on SRK's popularity. Luxury bike Ducati, apparel brand Tommy Hilfiger, Videocon, Tag Heuer, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc and Volkswagen AG, among others, have already signed up for Ra.One and several others are in talks.

The satellite rights have reportedly been sold for Rs 35 crore. Distribution rights, which are with Eros International, are said to have been sold for Rs 77 crore. The Ra.One game has been sold to an electronics giant for Rs 5 crore.

The total marketing budget for the film is said to be in the range of Rs 40 crore, which includes Rs 15 crore for online promotions. Rs 14 crore has reportedly been earmarked for promotion on news channels a fortnight before release.

Print ads have been booked in all leading publications, while 1,700 billboards will show SRK in his superhero gear - the role he plays in the movie.

Pritie Jadhav, chief operating officer of P9 Integrated, a film marketing company from the Percept Group says, "Ra.One's promotions activity is certainly different from what most Bollywood films have been doing thus far. It has got into the effective zone and creating lot of curiosity."

The promotion of this film is similar to the way Hollywood producers promote their films. Most Bollywood films with big stars typically start their marketing around eight weeks before release. But SRK has taken marketing to a whole new level with this film.

Loads of money is riding on Ra.One. But given the way SRK is going about the marketing and promotions it seems he has considerably reduced his dependence on box office revenues for this film. It's understood from industry sources that almost 80 per cent of the cost will be recovered from the pre-licensed content - distributed across platforms such as cable, digital, home theatre, etc - before the film hits the theatre.  

According to media analysts, given that the film belongs to the superhero genre, it has immense monetisation potential and SRK is just doing the right things.

Jadhav quips that in 2006 when they were promoting Krissh the online medium was not evolved for film marketing and she feels the Indian super hero commercial film came in before its time. But, nevertheless P9 was still able to bring on board 9 brands to become associated with the film, apart from the brands that did in-film placements.

But for all Bollywood films, the box office definitely matters too. And the way Ra.One is being promoted looks like SRK's aim is to de-risk by creating curiosity and getting audiences to advance book tickets of the film, which is due to release during the Diwali weekend.

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