The Anchor: Lakshmipathy Bhat on 4 reasons why Yash Chopra was such a marketing savvy craftsman

22 Oct,2012

By Lakshmipathy Bhat


Lakshmipathy Bhat

From Dhool ka Phool in 1959 to the as-yet-unreleased ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ in 2012 as a director. From Daag in 1973 to Ek Tha Tiger in 2012 as a producer.  Yash Chopra has given so many memorable films (and music) for almost three generations. He sure had his detractors but there’s no gainsaying the fact that he made a lasting impression on the industry and how the Indian film industry was seen by the outside world. He was seen as the ‘king of romance’ and his films were noted for the lavish production values.


Another admirable aspect of the man was his marketing savvy – not just in terms of making a profit from his films but about creating long term value. He and his son Aditya Chopra are credited with transforming YRF into a entertainment conglomerate – they ‘saw’ the future and adapted their business. Being at the helm of affairs of Yash Raj Films, he kept pace with changing trends in media consumption, adoption of new technologies  and remained contemporary in mindset.


Much has already been written about his business savvy and the role of marketing in the  success of Hum Tum, Dhoom 2, Chak De India and so many others. If I were to pick a few highlights from the way he chartered his business, they would be:


Knowing where the puck is going to be: YRF and its various offerings seemed to be ahead of others in sensing a trend and quickly adapting to tap the potential. It was evident in setting up an integrated business of film production, distribution and studios. They also adapted to the changing landscape in entertainment – be it in the way media was consumed by the audience, emergence of a global market for Indian films, the importance of youth as an audience segment or the importance of focus and a marketing idea right at the time of conceiving a film (and not just post-film release publicity).


Segmenting the market with a relevant offer: setting up Y-Films to cater to the youth market and hiring ‘specialist’ professional talent to run it or tying with Walt Disney to bring animation films in Indian languages (never mind if the 1st attempt flopped)


Building long term value: setting up of YRF Home Entertainment & acquiring classic titles of BR Films and RK Films, YRF Music, YRF Television and exploring merchandising opportunities were about building on your assets and creating long term value


Staying contemporary: visibility in new media, adopting new technologies & platforms yet staying true to the ‘magic’ of movies were the hallmarks of YRF Films. Mobile & new media content, selling songs through iTunes many years ago or creating hype around the ‘un-named film’ were evidence of being ‘contemporary’ in my book. And it is not just lip service – all of their new media presence – be it on Google+, Blogger, YouTube or Twitter is robust and ‘alive’ with latest content. It is not a ‘social media ghost town’ – as is the case with even savvy FMCG marketers.


I have seen and enjoyed many of Yash Chopra’s creations – be it as Director or Producer or music from his films. Aside from an entertainer, he was a marketing savvy craftsman.


Lakshmipathy Bhat has been a senior adperson having been Vice President with DraftFCB+Ulka in Bengaluru until recently. He is currently Director at CodeConclave, a company focused on creating branded mobile apps for clients. He also blogs on advertising and new media at


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