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3 Idiots: Exploring innovative marketing

By Rohit Nautiyal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | December 24, 2009
The makers of the movie lined up some interesting marketing ploys, leading to the release of the film this weekend

If Ghajini secured the honour of the best marketed film of 2008, Vidhu Vinod Chopra's 3 Idiots qualifies for the title this year. Releasing this Friday, the movie is an adaptation of Chetan Bhagat's Five Point Someone, a light hearted and entertaining journey of three friends who try to figure themselves out and share unforgettable experiences.

To promote the movie, the makers have come up with some unusual marketing ploys.

& #BANNER1 & #To begin with, each promo of the movie was unveiled in an event attended by three people associated with the movie, including the star cast comprising Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, R Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Boman Irani and director Rajkumar Hirani. Also, press conferences were beamed in seven countries.

The music launch of the movie was broadcast on idiotsacademy.com, marked by the absence of media. Users visiting the site on the day of the launch had the option of chatting with the stars present there.

Future Group's Pantaloons India has collaborated with Vinod Chopra Films to launch the 3 Idiots apparel and accessories collection. In his spare time during the shooting of the film, Khan was in the habit of scribbling. The designers at Pantaloons were handed over the pages on which Khan scribbled and the designs were executed on T-shirts. Starting at Rs 399, the T shirts are available in 45 Pantaloons stores across the country.

Besides, the collection also includes replicas of T-shirts, garments and jewellery worn by Khan, Madhavan, Joshi and Kapoor in the film.

Zahid Shaikh, head, marketing, Pantaloons shares that the retail company has been selling movie merchandise for a long time, including recent movies such as Tashan, Bachna Ae Haseeno and Dostana. "The range will cut across age groups and the best part is that it is reasonably priced," he says.

Reliance Life Insurance has entered into a tie up with the movie and is using the thought 'All is well', which is one of the mainstay themes in the communication of the film. The campaign, spanning television, radio and outdoor, talks about Reliance Life Insurance's assurance of taking care of its consumer's financial worries and enabling them to live life to the fullest.

Outdoor for the campaign includes innovations on hoardings, bus shelters, bus backs, platform signages and mobile vans. Primesite has executed the outdoor campaign by creating cut-outs of the star cast, which have been put up across Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and 500 towns across India.

As part of another innovation, stickers reading Capacity: 3 Idiots were pasted on the back of 10,000 auto rickshaws that moved in cities such as Mumbai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kota, Lucknow, Kanpur, Patna, Kolkata, Bhopal, Indore, Bengaluru, Chennai and some cities of Gujarat. Speaking on the efficacy of auto rickshaw branding, producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra tells afaqs!, "Auto rickshaw is the most popular mode for commuting and works as a wonderful reminder medium. We have used this sticker in all the cities where rickshaw is one of the common modes for commuting."

Besides, activation in multiplexes included messages on the walls of washrooms, saying 'You are the fourth idiot'. Also, chairs shaped like hips placed in the lounge area of multiplexes caught many eyeballs and users. Chairs of the same design appear in the film and have been used in posters of the film, with Khan, Madhavan and Joshi sitting on them.

In early December, Zapak, the online gaming portal, created an alternate reality game on idiotsacademy.com. As part of this, Khan said (through a video message) that he will travel through India, leaving clues about his whereabouts and participants of the game got two weeks to track him down. Varanasi was the first place Khan visited, disguised as an old man locating the house where his mother grew up.

Next, accompanied by Kapoor, he visited the weavers of the famous Chanderi sarees in Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh. Both actors shared meals with the weavers, bought saris and discussed problems of the weavers. Later, Kareena attended a press conference clad in a Chanderi sari gifted by Khan and spoke about her experience with the weavers. After this, Khan landed up outside cricketer Saurav Ganguly's house in Kolkata, again in disguise.

Other places he visited included a school in Gujarat, where he spoke to kids on what they want to do in life, before heading to his final destination, Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu.

The idea for Khan's nationwide journey came from the story of the film, where his friends go in search of him. The difference here was that media and fans were trying to spot Khan. Obviously, this journey was captured by many news and entertainment channels and became free publicity for the film.

On Facebook, a profile called Pucca Idiot has been created that has more than one lakh fans. The profile has videos and pictures of Khan's journey.

While it gets full marks for promotional tactics, it remains to be seen whether the movie lives up to the hype created around it.

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