Marketing Ghajini: Bollywood's Biggest Blockbuster Abstract: On December 25, 2008, the much-awaited Hindi film, 'Ghajini' (a revenge
drama) was released and it went on to become an instant hit. It opened to packed houses and grossed Rs. 320 million in one day worldwide. Its first week collections amounted to Rs. 1 billion in India. According to trade observers, it had broken all records set by earlier Bollywood films. The success of the film was widely attributed to aggressive promotional strategies adopted by the film maker (Geetha Arts) in conjunction with the lead actor of the film, Aamir Khan (Aamir), one of the top actors in the Hindi film industry, who played a vital role in the promotion of the film.
The promotional strategies included viral marketing, ambush marketing, television advertising, multiplex promotion, tie-ups with several well-known brands, and merchandising. In addition to this, a 3D PC game based on the film was also launched. The distribution strategy was also unique. Experts felt that the makers of Ghajini had raised the bar for film promotion in India. They felt that the rules of film promotion have changed as film makers were becoming more and more aggressive in their marketing strategies in their bid to ensure that the movie was viewed by the maximum number of people.
» To analyze the promotional campaign for Ghajini and understand the factors that led to its success. » Understand how the company managed to get huge publicity for the film. » Study how the promotions of films had changed with the emergence of new media channels such as the Internet. » Study the Indian film industry and explore strategies that film promoters could adopt to ensure good openings and longer shelf life for their films.
I think at a time when big opening weekends have become essential for the films' financial success, one needs to create an urgency in people to see the film in the first couple of weeks. Our marketing strategies are focused on creating this urgency." - Madhu Mantena, Producer, Ghajini, in December 2008. "Bollywood publicists are clearly putting a whole lot of thought into how to spread the word of mouth. We are seeing more and more meaningful promotional campaigns that not just spread the word about the films but also attempting to give the film a longer shelf-life and emotional connect with audiences." - A Trade Observer, commenting on the promotional strategies of Ghajini, in December 2008
"Historic Hit in 14 Minutes and 52 Seconds" December 25, 2008, saw the release of the much-awaited film, 'Ghajini'. The film (a revenge drama) opened to packed houses and grossed a staggering Rs. 320 million in a single day worldwide. Its first week collections amounted to Rs. 1 billion in India. With this, Ghajini became the biggest grosser at the Indian box office in terms of returns in the first week. Trade observers opined that the film was the biggest Bollywood blockbuster of 2008 and had broken all records set by earlier films. Komal Nahta (Nahta), trade analyst and editor, Film Street Journal, said, "The movie has earned more than Gadar: Ek Prem Katha and is comparable to DDLJ.", Commenting on the success of the film, a spokesperson for Ghajini said, "Ghajini has had the biggest box office opening and collections this year. It is the first movie to cross more than 100 crores in a week.
The collections, as of 31st December, were Rs 140 crores and we are still counting. The poster reads 14 minutes and 52 seconds because Aamir loses his memory every 14 minutes and 52 seconds. The money Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi earned in 3 weeks, Ghajini took a week to earn.", The success of the film was widely attributed to the aggressive promotional strategies adopted by the film makers in conjunction with the lead actor of the film, Aamir Khan (Aamir), one of the top actors in the Hindi film industry, who played a vital role in the promotion of the film. The film was produced by Allu Arvind (Arvind), a noted south Indian film producer and distributor, under the banner ‘Geetha Arts’. Established in 1974, Geetha Arts was one of the most reputed production houses in south India. In addition to Hindi films, the banner had delivered several hit films in south Indian languages such as Tamil, Kannada, and Telugu. Ghajini was earlier made in Tamil in 2005 and proved to be a raging hit. It was also dubbed in Telugu, and was again a hit. The success of the Telugu and Tamil versions of the film prompted Geetha Arts to go ahead and remake the film in Hindi. The film was made on a budget of Rs. 500 million with Rs. 140 million set aside for promotional activities. Aamir, being Internet-savvy, made extensive use of the Internet to promote the film. The promotional strategies included viral marketing, ambush marketing, television advertising, multiplex promotion, tie-ups with several well-known
brands, and merchandising. In addition to this, a 3D PC game based on the film was also launched. The promotional strategies generated so much buzz around the film that the audiences began to eagerly await its release. The paid previews screened before the release of the film also attracted audiences in large numbers. Experts opined that while there might be myriad reasons behind the success of Ghajini, the way it was marketed played a big role in its ultimate success at the box office. The promotional strategies adopted by the film makers, online as well as offline, created such hype around the film that people turned up in high numbers to watch it in the theaters. Moreover, the film broke all prior box office records set by other films since the day of its release. According to Amod Mehra, trade analyst, “The film, in its opening spell, has broken all previous records of super-hit films like Krrish, Dhoom:2, among others. I feel both the producer and the distributor of the film would recover their money with surplus overflow.", The unprecedented success of the film prompted the film makers to launch the film with English subtitles on December 26, 2008.
The unofficial publicity for Ghajini began on March 20, 2008, when Aamir made his first public appearance with his 'buzz cut' - the hairstyle he sports in the film - at the premier of a Hindi film, Race. Commenting on his new look, Aamir said, "This is the look originally, yes. This is what the look was and this is what the director wanted so this is what I have done and there are these 'scars' on my head and at the back also in two three places - since the character has got injured in the head."...
Paid Previews Paid previews were viewed as another marketing strategy by film makers since they helped in generating a certain amount of buzz around the film. On December 23, 2008, the film had 300 paid previews with the ticket prices ranging between Rs. 100 and Rs. 300. The tickets were sold usually at a 30 percent premium while some theaters sold them at regular rates. According to Ghosh, "The number of paid previews is so large that it is as good as a release. Earlier, we used to have three shows a day when a film released, now each cinema is having three paid previews a day prior to the release!" Earlier Hindi films like Dostana and Singh is Kinng had paid previews and collected Rs. 7.5 million and Rs. 5 million respectively... Distribution
The promotional strategies of the film hit the right chord in generating hype and thereby attracting audiences to the theaters. The distributors felt that the film would receive a very good opening keeping in view the promotional strategies adopted by the film makers to promote the film...
The promotional strategies adopted by the film makers resulted in generating such hype that the film showed whopping results. In contrast to the estimates made by experts that
Rs. 10 million would be collected from the paid previews, the film grossed Rs. 70 million from December 23, 2008 to December 24, 2008.