Innovative marketing techniques help taking Rajinikanth to a global audience
Indian cinema has just stepped into a new era. The success of Rajinikanth’s Robot – Enthiran in Tamil and Robo in Telugu - is a lesson in film marketing. The Weekend Leader interviewed Sreedhar Pillai, noted journalist and trade specialist, on the film’s success and the innovative marketing techniques used to promote the film.
What is the trade verdict on Enthiran?
It is a runaway super hit in all the three versions, across the globe. For the first time a Tamil film was released globally in approximately 2000 plus screens, which is path breaking. The kind of media hysteria it created worldwide and the amount of coverage on the national news channels is unprecedented.
Who is responsible for the film’s success? Is it the acting skills of Rajinikanth, the directorial skills of Shankar, or the marketing skills of Kalanidhi Maran ?
It is a combination of all these factors that made Enthiran a super hit. Rajinikanth can take the bulk of the credit for the success of the film. He promoted the film aggressively right from its audio launch in Malaysia, by making the right noises. Rajinikanth the one man entertainment troupe brought in the audiences along with its rich content and packaging by Shankar. The showman among Indian directors made it technically the best ever Indian film with never-seen-before special effects and graphics, on par with the best that Hollywood can dish out. But above all it was the smart marketing of Sun Pictures and Kalanidhi Maran and his COO Hansraj Saxena, which did the trick.
“The film is a hit only because of the innovative marketing of Sun Pictures”
Give us a sense of the marketing innovations that Sun Pictures carried out to ensure the success of Enthiran?
Right from day one when Sun Pictures took over the film from Ayngaran International, it was made out to be the biggest and most expensive film ever made in India. Rajinikanth himself said that the film cost upwards of Rs 150 crore, which gave the film the required thrust. Unlike other films of Sun Pictures, Enthiran’s promos started only a few days before the release creating the hype and hoopla at the right time.
They also dispensed with the Minimum Guarantee...
Most important factor was that all the three versions of the film released simultaneously, something which has not happened earlier to any dubbing film - from Tamil to Hindi and Telugu. In Tamil Nadu they followed a unique marketing method and not following the norm of giving the film on MG (Minimum Guarantee). Instead of asking for high MG’s they signed up attractive deals with theatres whereby they would get a much higher share of the collections. It worked in a big way and also ensured the producer rightly got the bulk of the box-office collections.
Do you foresee other film-makers replicating this formula?
Please note Enthiran is a rare and unique case as it is a Rajinikanth film. It will not work with other hero films because they do not command the opening that the superstar has in the industry.
Had it been any other producer – and not Sun Pictures - would Enthiran been such a runaway hit?
No. The film is a hit only because of the innovative marketing of Sun Pictures. Nobody else could have pulled it off so successfully.