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I am probably going to make myself hugely unpopular amongst the Film marketing community with this article. I was asked to write about how events, promotions and activities in the week leading up to release affect the opening weekend of a film. I assume by this we are talking of things like Radio visits, appearances on TV shows, Premiere’s, press conferences, press meets, Mall visits, etc. 

The plethora of things that we do these days to get a ‘good opening’. My belief is that whereas all these things might be necessary in the weeks before release, in that release week, they are mostly ornamental. That means that they honestly wouldn’t affect the opening in any significant way.

I know now people will be screaming at this page ‘Are you saying marketing has no affect at all on films’? No, that is not what I am saying at all. I believe marketing is a hugely important ingredient for a film and good message and communication can help position a film for a designated target group. However, I am also saying that in marketing, timing is vitally important and so are a range of tools that need to be used over a longer period of time. Buzz is crucial for a film (whatever ‘buzz’ means) but it cannot be created in a week, not at least to a wide audience for every movie. Tomorrow if the trailer of Star Wars came out or the latest Salman Khan movie came out, people would be more than happy to pay for tickets for that film in the next week. But would they pay if the film was coming out in the next 6 months? Some would but not in the same percentage. That’s because marketing has to be linked with timing and propensity to purchase.

Most films in India do anywhere between 5-8 weeks of publicity, if those films are of a reasonable size and depending on the songs they wish to release. This communication will include teasers, trailers, theatrical trailers, song promos, full songs, dialogue promos, radio interviews, radio songs promotion, PR, interviews, poster ads, banner ads, hoarding ads, social media promotions like Facebook live, online chat sessions, meet and greets with contest winners, star visits, studio visits, co-branded promotion with other brands, press conferences like trailer launches or first looks, press shows, premieres, etc. The list can go on and on and on. Surely with all of these communication assets out, you would expect the consumer to be somewhat aware of the product on offer at least a week prior to release? You would also want them to be aware of the release date too. If you have spent 6 weeks marketing and one week before, your core TG doesn’t know when the film is releasing, honestly – you have done something badly wrong. 

Basis all these assets and generally with the trailer as the clincher, audiences make up their minds on whether they will be seeing a film in the first weekend or waiting to hear reviews or possibly skipping it completely. If you are holding your best assets back for the last week as a tool to create that propensity to consume that fi lm, then you may have missed the bus. Events in the last week should be frequency building opportunities, visibility opportunities and reminders to an already convinced audience who just need to go book a ticket. Anything more than that and honestly, those people will be waiting for a good review before they make a commitment.

People are generally more cynical about promotion as well. They can usually tell when something is a branding pitch or a chance to endorse something else. That is why interviews on any media are good to an extent in my opinion. Too much and it becomes an overload and a turn off. We have seen this in the past as well where too much proved to be too little and the clutter eventually turned them off the film. That’s why marketing communication needs to be well timed and planned.

Clearly marketing and good marketing can be extremely beneficial to a movie. Awareness and desire to watch can both be created and maintained for a period of time with consistent but incremental messaging to lure audiences and compel them to watch. However to suggest that this can be done through one mode of promotion only and in just a week prior to release is a huge stretch. The film landscape is becoming more and more competitive and the entertainment landscape even more. When you combine lifestyle opportunities into this as well, people are making more and more informed decisions about what they do with their time and in my opinion, they are unlikely to be swayed from that decision in a week and by a few meet and greet events.

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