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Hollywood on an aggressive mode to market their films in India, bets big on brand tie-ups

Hollywood studios, realising the potential of the Indian market, have begun marketing their films here aggressively.

Anusha Subramanian        Last Updated: July 25, 2012  | 21:57 IST

Hollywood films grow more popular in India every year . While their appeal is mainly in the metros, it is also true that dubbed versions of these films, be it in Hindi, Tamil or Telugu have been doing extremely well too - and in non metro towns.  Hollywood studios, realising the potential of the Indian market, have begun marketing their films here aggressively.

Currently, for instance, animation flick Ice Age-4, which is yet to be released, has tied up with seven different brands: MTR Milk Drinks, McDonalds, MCD, Crax Corn Rings, Perfetti Alpenliebe Swirl, LG Electronics 3D TV and The Mobile Store. What does this mean? "This is a growing trend as new brands are able to reach consumers with their differentiated offering through this medium. It is a logical, entertaining and topical solution," says Vivek Krishnani, Head of Distribution, Marketing and Syndication, Fox Star Studios.

In terms of size and scale, Bollywood films still dominate in India . But, when it comes to brand tie-ups, the ratio is a little skewed in favour of Hollywood films, with 30 per cent of all deals being struck with these films, say Hollywood studio officials in India.

"We'd say it's skewed towards the best creative connect or offer that the brand can create using film as a property. Hollywood certainly has an edge as the quality of content and packaging of proven franchises are far superior and they tend to garner more interest from audiences," says Krishnani.

In the past year, most studios have understood to have increased their marketing spends by 50 to 100 per cent depending on the genre of the movie. Industry sources indicate that the current share of Hollywood films is 11 to 12 per cent - up from five per cent two years ago.

However, media analysts say that the interest amongst brands is limited to big budget Hollywood features because they carry an aspirational value. Smaller Hollywood films do not get the same kind of response from brands because they do not find the same kind of favour with the audience as animated and superhero films. "Hollywood has grown significantly in India since 2008 when its share was five to nine per cent. This has been helped by the increasing appeal of Hollywood films, aggressive marketing, their becoming more accessible due to the growth of multiplexes and their dubbing them to make them locally relevant," says Krishnani.

According to the data cited in a recent FICCI-KPMG report, Hollywood's share of domestic box office collections is expected to grow by 20-25 per cent this year from 14 per cent in 2010. Hollywood, which had a mere three to five per cent market share a few years ago, has now realised the potential of the Indian market. The market is growing 25 per cent year-on-year, say industry officials.

"Films are also a definite way to reach the maximum number of people with a single window. These films come with a huge of velocity on their own and also a high glamour and star power quotient, which gives an edge to brand campaigns and helps break the clutter," says Krishnani.

After Amul and Cadbury's Bournville association with The Amazing Spider-man and The Dark Knight Rises, seven other brands have joined hands with Fox Star Studios for its latest animation film Ice Age 4: Continental Drift that will release on July 27 in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Clearly, the experience of advertisers has been good in their associations with movies such as Cars 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, The Avengers and Men In Black:3.

Indian films, in Hindi and regional languages, have always been a popular medium for brands to reach out to their target audience. But in the last couple of years, Hollywood movies have also found steady appeal amongst brands which seek co-branding in association with films leading up to their release. Brands like Reebok, Seven Seas Codliver Oil, Kelloggs, Horlick and MAAC among others, have put their money on big ticket Hollywood films.

Another factor aiding their popularity is wider distribution than before. If a Hindi film saw a release with 400 prints, Hollywood films earlier would see around 50 prints. This has changed today. For instance, The Amazing Spider-man was released with 1236 prints in four languages - English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu and in 3D, 2D and IMAX formats. The Dark Knight Rises released with 650 prints and 800 shows across the country.

Says Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consultants Inc., a brand building and brand communications company: "Hollywood films typically appeal to the right, focused target audience. These film studios also have a focused approach. Secondly, Hollywood cinema offers a brilliant opportunity for recession time brand marketers where this medium affords reach at a reasonably low cost, much lower than TV."

"Typically, animation movies and films aimed at children and family add a lot of zing to the brand appeal. They are geared to leverage the massive amount of noise created by big budget Hollywood movies because of the tremendous exposure they provide," Bijoor adds.

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