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Sanjay talks of branded entertainment

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Courtesy: IndiaFM
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
You may have noticed the presence of popular brands like the Eros Jewellery, Nerolac Paints, Taj Mahal Tea, Seagrams and the stunning Audi A6 in Ravi Chopra's Baabul. Sanjay Bhutiani, Business Head of BR Films, is the brain child behind these placements.

What exactly is branded entertainment? What are the various things advertisers can do under the realm of branded entertainment?
Branded entertainment has been around for three to four years now. It is everything related to placing brands in films. It involves in-film placements, on-ground activities, events, contests, etc. The use of actors and the script is the biggest advantage to the advertiser. Branded entertainment is definitely catching up in India since it's a new medium altogether.

What is the biggest challenge in branded entertainment?
Branded entertainment aims at brand visibility. However, it should not overshadow the script to such an extent that there is a modification in the message. Thus it needs to be kept subtle. Balancing these extremes is the biggest challenge.

Have you come across an instance when a film star has opposed in-film placements?
I have personally not come across any such instances but it is likely to happen, in case the actor feels that the product fit is inappropriate.

Are brands today setting aside budgets from their marketing plans for Bollywood associations?
A few years back the brands used to take up in-film branding impulsively. Today, however, brands are consciously setting aside budgets for branding entertainment.

Many people believe that product placement is risky because the ROI depends on the fate of the film. What is your take on this issue?
It is true that the brand placements depend on the fate of the film. However, today films are getting a lot of exposure due to DTH, DVDs, VCDs and cable television. Also, Bollywood films have a lot of international audience. Thus movies today gain a lot of visibility irrespective of their box office performance.

On an average, how many movies per year successfully&effectively feature brands?
Subtle forms of in-film branding existed in movies since a long time. Currently, almost 25% of the Bollywood movies employ branded entertainment.

Baabul features many brands (Eros, Nerolac, Taj Mahal tea, Seagrams, Audi). Which brand according to you has the best placement in the film?
I think all the brands have been placed exceptionally well. However the one that stands out is the Audi A6, especially because it blends so well with the script. Generally, audiences would expect an elite family such as the one featured in the movie, to drive around in a Mercedes. But this platform was perfect to launch a brand with the likes of Audi. International audiences are also looking up to Bollywood. Baabul has also made it to the UK charts as the 8th best movie its first weekend itself. With the Audi being placed in Baabul, it will enjoy a lot of international visibility too.

Has the script of a movie ever been changed in accordance with the advertiser's requirement?
The script of the movie is never changed. While drafting the script itself, sometimes one can realize the product and brand fit. If it matches the requirements of the advertiser then the alliance is made. Also, sometimes the brands have prominent visibility in the film, sometimes it is subtle. So it really depends on the objective of the advertiser.

Are most placements cash deals or barter?
Sometimes the deals are cash, sometimes barter, or cash-barter. It depends on two parties- the producer and the advertiser.

Gaming Hungama has created an online game for Baabul. What kind of audience are you trying to tap?
Generally in India the market for such interactive games is the younger people. But in the international market the age group is wider since internet penetration is higher.

How do you think the concept of Bollywood games can leverage the brand?
Communication is no longer one-way. The main objective of communication today is interactivity. If the users are involved in the movie before it is even released, it will create an urge to find out more about the movie.

Out of all the placements you have seen, which has been the best so far?
There have been a lot of good placements of late. However, the best I have seen so far is definitely the placement of Audi A6 in Baabul because of the way it just fits into the script.

Is the trend of in-film advertising here to stay?
It is not only here to stay, it is here to rock!

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