Shailesh Kapoor: Chennai Express: On A TV Near You

08 Aug,2013

By Shailesh Kapoor


You can love him. You can hate him. But you could not have missed him on your television over the last week. Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) was omnipresent on the small screen in the lead upto the release of his new film Chennai Express. From reality shows to daily serials to news channel specials to the innumerable promotional spots on music channels, if you wanted an SRK-less life over the last week, the only real option you had was to turn off your TV sets.


Some may call it overkill, but the blitzkrieg has definitely helped the movie. The film is set to challenge the opening day record held by Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger. And that may only be the start.


Television has fast emerged as not just the lead but also the dominant media for film promotions over the last decade. In a 2012 study conducted by us, television’s impact on the buzz of a film was more than twice that of posters and trailers in the theatres, which emerged as the second-most effective media to drive the buzz for a new release.


By now, most producers, especially the big studios, understand this impact. Hence, TV plans have got more aggressive while other media, especially outdoor, are being used more judiciously in recent times.


But a key component of the TV plan goes beyond paid promos and the music free-play on channels like MTV and 9XM. It is the GEC and the news part that’s more exciting today. The former delivers reach beyond the relatively “niche” music genre, while the latter delivers male audiences, the core theatre-going populace.


But then, every star is not an SRK or a Salman Khan who can make the most of the exposure his film gets on reality shows and news specials. I have been a strong opponent of channels giving free mileage to films through in-programme plugs, in what is an evidently one-sided relationship. But when an SRK comes to your reality show, you have, what an Executive Producer will call, a “rocking episode”. So the relationship is clearly win-win.


But most other stars just make an appearance, not knowing much to say or do that could add value to the film’s campaign or to the programme’s ratings. These appearances do nothing to the rocking-ness of the episodes. There are other extremes too. When Sunil Shetty made appearances to promote his (wrongly-spelt) film Enemmy, the only audience reaction was: “Isko abhi bhi filmein milti hain!”


Coming back to Chennai Express, SRK has been witty, charming and edgy in equal measure, in his promotional appearances for the film. Having seen him promote many films with equal vigour in the past, one can safely say that Rohit Shetty is one of the best things to have happened to SRK. He seemed relaxed and at-ease promoting an outright fun film. The genre evidently suits his persona well.


Come October, things may change and become even more interesting. Most readers will be aware that film producers get heavily discounted ad rates from channels, compared to what an FMCG brand pays, because trailers are seen as part-content. If the 10+2 ad cap indeed sees the light of the day, these discounted rates will be the first ones to go, as channels, short of saleable inventory, will have to shed low-priority advertisers, part-content or not.


We can then expect innovation that goes beyond reality show episodes, where channels and producers co-create content, like the Eid event to promote Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara, scheduled this weekend on Colors.


For SRK, meanwhile, life has come a full circle. The medium where he started his career has now embraced him whole-heartedly as he gets sets to deliver his next blockbuster.


For the sake of television entertainment, wish they made more like him!


Shailesh Kapoor is founder and CEO of media insights firm Ormax Media. He spent nine years in the television industry before turning entrepreneur. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached at his Twitter handle @shaileshkapoor


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