India Trending topics
Marketing, Strategy

Are Facebook updates and Tweets equal to Mass media popularity

Over the past few months, I have been trying to gauge if yesterday night’s top program was indeed on twitter or not, in its Trending topics section I mean. As an example, Sunday Night’s top Program in Mumbai was the Champions Trophy final, billed as the last clash between Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. Empirically, the correlation stands. Even at 7.45 AM on Monday, these programs were on Trending topics of twitter. Check it out –

mass media to twitter trends

Trending topics on Twitter and correlation to Mass media spends

The real question here is – Can & should mass media be swayed by the “socially” active programs? Should mass media advertisers truly ascertain value to such twitter trending topic presence or Facebook Trend presence? Lets look at both sides of the coin here –

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Business, Entertainment, Marketing, Web

Business of Movie Trailers

As much as I like watching movies, I like to watch movie trailers too. Sometimes, unfortunately, the best part about a movie is the trailers that run before it. The main aim of the trailer is to raise the viewer’s interest in the movie. If the trailer is successful in garnering the viewer’s interest and pulling him towards watching the movie, its purpose is served. Teaser trailers which run for like 15-20 seconds generally pique the viewer’s interest. However the longer trailers, which usually run for 2-2 ½ minutes, tell much more about the movie. These should not give away too much lest it might ruin all the fun. Nor should it be so ordinary that it completely bores the person and he/she loses any interest in the movie.

A screenshot of the yahoo movies webpage

A screenshot of the yahoo movies webpage

Now-a-days movie makers exploit every way to market the trailers. In addition to them being shown in theaters, they are up on television as well as on internet. Recently YouTube launched a new channel just for movie trailers. Yahoo already has had one for a long time. So has Apple.

But the most effective place for trailers is the movie theater. That is where a trailer is first released. These trailers are sometimes released four five months before the actual movie. And there is a lot of background work gone behind showing these trailers. Which trailers are to be shown with which movie, when should they be shown before the movie starts…all is a part of a strategy.

Generally movie studios decide to release a movie trailer with their latest movies. But the final decision rests with the theater chains. In India, there are still large numbers of single screen theaters. But the multiplex culture has developed considerably in the cities. Most of the movie followers are well aware about the recent dispute between the movie makers and the multiplex owners about the share of profits. Aamir Khan and SRK came together on that issue to resolve the dispute. The clout that the theater owners and movie chains hold over the movie industry is quite evident from this. Mostly they also have control over what trailers will be shown in the theaters.

In Hollywood, with large number of movies and big studios backing them up, there is generally a very tough competition before it is decided which trailers will be shown. The theaters cant just show trailers for all the movies that the studios want advertised. Generally there is a deal between the studio and the theater chain about the trailers. Before a movie begins, different trailers are shown for at least around 10 minutes. The deals decide which trailers will be shown and when. Efforts are made to put the trailer just before the movie starts because that is the best time when it can reach maximum audience members. The trailers that run first probably aren’t seen that much as every viewer is still not in his seat.

Hollywood executives are reported to have paid a theater chain as much as $100,000 to make sure that a particular trailer runs just before a hit movie. Also if not done explicitly, there are other ways to make deals with theaters. Some include diverting the marketing costs which are listed under print ads. Or giving the chain a bigger share of the ticket sales.

However there is always some amount of distrust between the theater owners and the movie makers. Studios even hire private companies to check on whether they are getting their money’s worth. These companies send their reps to theaters and check on whether the trailer promised to be shown in the theater is actually running. The amount spent per month on this is at least about $10K. If found that a particular chain is not running the promised trailer, results may be dire. If the studio decides against showing any of its movies in that chain, instead opting for the competition, it can mean a loss of lot of money.

Another new strategy adapted by studios is exclusive screening of trailers in theaters. Recently James Cameron showed a peek at his new movie “Avatar”. As you all know, James Cameron is the maker of the highest grossing movie ever, The Titanic, and Avatar, his next venture, is eagerly awaited. So when 20th Century Fox and James Cameron showed 15 minutes of “Avatar” at a specially ticketed event in August, more than 100,000 viewers attended the screenings. Also while marketing “The Dark Knight,” Warner Brothers had showed a few minutes of its opening sequence in theaters with paid tickets.

It is obvious though that such tactics will work when the big studios or at least big directors are behind that movie. With more and more different means to advertise and market a movie, now it just remains to be seen what new and interesting ideas the marketing guys will come up with next.

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Business, Entertainment, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Marketing, Strategy

Critics: Trash, Box Office: Gold

Transformers –Revenge of the Fallen released last Wednesday in the United States and many other countries. The sequel to the 2007 hit Transformers made a smashing entry with an opening of around $60 million at the box office. Its five day earnings, from Wednesday to Sunday total $200 million. This total is just short of what last year’s summer blockbuster The Dark Knight made in its first five days. Eventually Dark Knight went to make nearly $1 billion in ticket sales and stands second only to the Titanic in top earning movies of all time.

However I seriously doubt if Transformers would be able to get any close to that total. The Dark Knight was highly acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. It took superhero movies to a whole new level. On the other hand the Transformers sequel has been universally panned by critics. The first Transformers had managed to get mixed reviews and even praise from some critics, but there have been no critics this time who even remotely liked the movie. Barring the visual effects, the movie has been roundly criticized for its supposedly incessant and unbearable action and noise, poor dialogues and ridiculous humor.

So how did the movie still manage to make so much money? One obvious factor is the huge marketing and promotion. The total movie budget, including its marketing costs is close to $200 million. The ads have definitely paid off. The first movie was also very successful in itself and this whetted the appetite for the sequel.

Another factor is releasing the movie on a Wednesday. A Wednesday release is not the newest thing in Hollywood. Before Transformers- II, Spider-man, The Dark Knight and number of other movies have also been Wednesday releases. The strategy behind releasing a movie in the middle of the week is to help raise the hype and buzz. By the time the movie enters the weekend period from Friday to Sunday, the movie, already running on huge promotions and ads, and sometimes assisted by good reviews or good word of mouth publicity, acquires full steam and manages to make a lot of money. At the same time bad word of mouth publicity can sink the movie swiftly. In this case, not the reviews, but the great buzz and good publicity from certain audience sections seem to have worked.

In India, Ghajini was I think one of the first movies to use this kind of strategy. The producers of Ghajini had organized “paid previews” of the movie. The tickets for the paid previews were higher than the usual tickets and helped the producers earn a lot of moolah.

One thing is for sure. Transformers-II again brings forth the fact that movie reviews and movie returns are not necessarily related. There have been movies which were loved by critics but flopped big time at the box office and vice versa. Transformers – II, in spite of bad reviews has seen a rise in ticket sales. The main target audience, males, and especially teen boys, loved it. Surprisingly the female audience also increased compared to the first Transformers movie. According to audience reactions, people were anyway expecting a brainless, slam bang action movie from the Director (Michael Bay) and that is exactly what they got. Cool cars, huge transforming robots, great action, superb CGI effects and the hot Megan Fox. Who cares what the critics have to say?

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Business, Marketing

Does the new Vodafone campaign work?

Shubham, in one of his earlier posts, had covered the interesting Vodafone ads featuring zoozoos and one of the comments on that post wondered why the ads worked. The ads are definitely interesting depicting the various services of Vodafone with a humorous short. And the novelty of the ads ensures that they will definitely have high recall. The campaign itself has been executed well like Shubham pointed out.

But will the ads work? My hunch is that it will not. The Hutch ads featuring the puppy seem to have done more to popularize the breed of dog (pugs) than the network itself and the Vodafone ads seem to be operating on the same level. The ads themselves are quite sophisticated. The purpose of each ad is probably best understood by the urban market, the most saturated market as far as cell phone penetration is concerned. The ads do not offer the urban customer compelling enough reason to switch networks to Vodafone (switching costs for mobile networks being very high). The ads do a wonderful job of advertising Vodafone’s services to their existing user base but surely there are more effective ways of achieving the same result.

The semi-urban and rural market will be fairly clueless about the point of the Vodafone ads. While they may understand that Vodafone is advertising its value added services, those markets still use the cell phone primarily for making and receiving calls. The ads do not give non-urban customers a reason to use the Vodafone network. Contrast this with the latest ads by Tata Indicom emphasizing their superior network quality which is a reason to switch over to them. Inspite of this, the success of the Tata Indicom ad is still not guaranteed.

The advertising world (and the business world) knows no certainties. As Shubham pointed out in his earlier blog, campaigns which are perfectly thought out and executed can fail because of random factors which should not have mattered. You can only run campaigns according to your understanding of the market and hope that the market interprets them the same way.

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Business, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Planning, Public Issues

Vodafone Zoozoos are the new Hutch Puppies

The latest commercials by Vodafone featuring Zoozoos have hit the Indian Market like a storm. They have caught attention, became popular and will now probably go into history as one of the most brilliant advertising idea for the industry. The question on every advertising manager’s mind will be “Why have they clicked?” Can there really be an answer to this!

If you look at the history of Vodafone in India, they have had a similarly succesful campaign when they were known as Hutch. The Hutch Puppy started as a small campaign, grew into a really popular one and got a lot of recognition. The Hutch Puppy probably had a decent enough brand value and now you can see a puppy being used in a lot of other ads trying to use that brand equity, which Vodafone did not care to take along.

You can never tell what will click with the masses. Sometimes the most perfectly surveyed and tested campaigns fail miserably (example the new coke campaign) and sometimes small campaigns become a rage! This campaign of Vodafone Zoozoos should get credit for all aspects! Vodafone launched the campaign during IPL, one of the most expensive times to launch a campaign on television. Vodafone made 15-30 advertisements for different services offered, which involved a decent commitment to the campaign! Plus they have taken all the right steps to make it popular both on television and online.

The advertisement also puts a question in front of other telecom companies, does having big movie stars and cricketers as their brand ambassadors really help? Can’t simple animated characters based on local theatre slim built women dressed in white costumes, called Zoozoos draw more attention? It has changed the way advertising can be done and seen! A new trend, a new wave!


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Advertising, at its very best!

What is advertising? To put it in the most simple terms, it is the way to put across some information to a set of people so that it can be beneficial to you in some way. And of course, it is a paid form of “marketing”.

The most common form of advertising when we first think of it, is TV advertising. But that has its limits because you can never measure its influence. Online advertising is one step ahead as you can get a better idea of whether the receivers of your information are listening to you. Also, it is one more step ahead in trying to ensure you know you are hitting that section of society which you want to target.

But here’s a truly amazing form of advertising that I came across a few days back, through a friend.

This guy walked into a book store and went to a section which said “Search Engine Marketing”. He then browsed through a few books, before hitting on this one particularly interesting book. Before buying it, he just quickly scanned through the book to ensure good quality. And right at the centre of the book, he saw the visiting card of the CEO of a startup for Search Engine Marketing. He bought the book, and then called the CEO.

On telling the CEO how he had come across the information, the CEO told him that he had put his card in every single bookstore which had that book in Mumbai. He then interviewed this guy, and in 1 week’s time, he had joined that company in his first ever job.

So the startup ensured they advertised in exactly the right places – the CEO knew that he would only want to interview those people who selected this book.

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