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It's raining luxury brands in regional films

Last updated on: July 11, 2011 14:40 IST

It's raining luxury brands in regional films

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Varada Bhat in Mumbai

It's raining luxury brands in regional films. In the Tamil film Vaazhthukulam, for example, R Madhavan, who plays the role of a successful entrepreneur, chooses Havell's products for home interior accessories. His girlfriend gifts him a diamond- studded Timond watch and he proposes to her with the help of Forever Mark Diamonds.

Producers of the upcoming Marathi film, Jai Jai Maharashtra Mazha (JJMM), have signed on brands like Volkswagen, Fair and Lovely etc. And in the film Priyakshi, the hero works as the manager of KUN Hyundai, and drives a Hyundai Elantra car.

Regional film producers have started echoing what their Bollywood counterparts have been saying for a while: If there is a movie, there will be products placed in it, mostly those that have paid big money to be in the frame.

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Photographs: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters
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To be sure, brand association with regional movies has been going on for some time, but what has changed is the entry of upmarket products in tune with the increasing aspirations and purchasing power in regional markets.

The reason is obvious. Big brands are indeed making headway in towns outside the four metros.

For example, Adidas and Reebok have increased their sales by 50 per cent in rural markets and 40 per cent of fairness creams for men are consumed in Tier III cities.

According to World Gold Council figures, 60 per cent of India's annual consumption of gold and gold jewellery is from semi-urban and rural areas.

Brand experts say that regional movies give them a much better reach to the target audience as the market is clearly identified.

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Photographs: Claro Cortes IV/Reuters
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That's not the case with Bollywood movies.  "For instance, the southern part of India has shown a huge increase in disposable income, therefore a lot of high-end luxury brands want to get associated with Tamil and Telugu movies. Plus film stars there are treated as demi-gods. That brings great value," says Pritie Jadhav, COO, P9 Integrated. The firm has done in-film placements for several regional movies such as Vaazhthugul.

The move for in-film product placements has gained ground after the huge successes of many regional movies. In Hyderabad, for example, the highest grossing Telugu film (Magadheera) sold Rs 22 crore worth tickets, whereas the biggest Hindi hit (3 Idiots) sold just Rs 9 crore worth tickets.

Some of the smarter brands have realised that they need a local brand ambassador if they have to improve the connect between their consumers and their ads.

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Besides, the choice of local media properties enables the national brands to promote a specific communication strategy.

Producers say if the low shelf life of movies has cut down theatrical collections, it has opened another window of revenue in the form of brand associations or in-film placements.

Even in terms of cost dynamics, regional movies are more effective.  In a mainstream  Bollywood movie, it typically costs Rs 15 lakh-4 crore, depending on the level of placements. In regional films, the cost comes to Rs 7-15 lakh.

Also, the speed to market is much faster in regional movies compared to Bollywood. "You get in early and finish quickly. So from a big marketer's perspective there's a good opportunity within a stipulated time," says a leading Chennai-based producer.

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Regional stars such as Ravi Kishan (Bhojpuri) and Rituparna Sengupta (Bengali) are also raking it in from brand endorsements. Marico, for example, has a slew of such regional actors for its cooking oil brands.

Procter & Gamble has Kareena Kapoor for 'national' campaigns, but it also has Tamil/Telugu actress Anushka Shetty to sell its Head & Shoulders shampoo in the South.

Brand experts say brand integration or in-film placement is not just plain vanilla advertisement.

In-film helps the brand in getting instant recognition because unlike TV where during advertisements, viewers shuffle the channel, the advantage of in-film placement is that the viewer can't skip the message.

So In Tamil film Kanthaswamy, actor Vikram  is shown driving Tata's Safari Dicor. The USP of the car, which are its brakes, is highlighted in the opening scene of the movie.

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Some have taken this a step further. Emami's Navratna Extra Thanda Oil, for example, advertised an item song featuring Sambhavana Seth in Bhojpuri movie Jung with the lyrics describing the cool aspects of the brand.

"The idea was to cut through the clutter and reach out to core consumers directly. Media penetration is low in such markets and we believe Bhojpuri movies, which are very popular in these pockets, can be an excellent medium to reach out to our core potential customers," says Harsh Agarwal, Director, Emami.

Also, unlike Bollywood movies, brands get a much longer visibility in regional films. For example, the Telugu film, Anukokunda Oka Roju, actor Jagapati Babu is seen carrying a pack of Real juice throughout. In Bhojpuri film, Aaj ke Karan Arjun, the actors are shown having Mountain Dew most of the time.

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Photographs: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters
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Even though film-branding is not the main medium for marketing of brands (it accounts for just 2-3 per cent of the total advertisement budget of most big brands), it is cost-effective and acts as a bonus value.

Regional film producers agree. "For regional films, in-film branding helps to reduce publicity budgets by a minimum of 10-15 per cent," says Satish Motling, Director of several Marathi movies.

His movie, Agadbum, had tied up with Big Bazaar and used these stores for promoting the movie across the Maharashtrian belt.



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