Spider-Man spins a web of magic for HBO

By , agencyfaqs! | In | February 18, 2004
The comic-book hero's exploits on the small screen seem to have charmed Indian masses across socio-economical classifications

Hollywood flick Spider-Man - which made box office history with a record-shattering opening weekend of $114 million in the United States and grossed Rs 28 crore in India collections - has now woven a web of magic for HBO in India.

The comic-book hero's exploits on the small screen seem to have charmed Indian masses across socio-economical classifications. According to TAM data, the blockbuster notched a rating of 2.25 (for week January 25-31, 2004, SEC A&B, 15-44 age group) across India; in the top six metros the movie clocked a rating of 2.95. Spider-Man is among the Top 100 television programmes for the week January 25 to 31, 2004, pulling off the highest ratings among all English movies shown in the last 12 months (January 2003-January 2004).

If this is another indicator of Spider-Man's success, Shah Rukh-Rani Mukherji-starrer Chalte Chalte, which was aired on January 29 on ZEE TV, has managed to gross 2.17, tad behind Spider-Man (Source: TAM Media; week January 25-31, 2004, all India, SEC A & B, 15-44 age group).

Though Spider-Man could not beat the record of The Mummy, which boasts of a higher rating point of 3.41 (2002), its performance has given the HBO brass a lot to cheer about. "The times are different," points out Shruti Bajpai, country manager (India), HBO South Asia. "Therefore the comparison may not hold." Times are different indeed.

With television vying with a dozen other activities - including movies, shopping, quick getaways - for viewer attention around weekends, HBO decided to go in for a massive advertising and promotional blitz to tickle audience interest prior to the telecast. "Our marketing budget is small; yet we managed to produce the right impact through innovative integration of various media vehicles," says Bajpai.

As part of pre-screening promotion, HBO offered viewers a chance to win holiday packages to Goa, Nokia phones, Samsung TVs and plenty of HBO and Spider-Man goodies. Viewers had to simply watch the premiere of Spider-Man and answer a few questions through SMS or mail.

Besides leveraging print and television, creating awareness on ground was on top of HBO's agenda. To that end, a special Spider-Man-HBO mobile van was taken to many vantage locations in various metros, which encouraged people to interact with a dummy Spider-Man. The channel also tied up with Pizza Hut to rope in kids in the entire range of activities.

While these activities generated the desired effect, the universal appeal of Spider-Man set the stage for the movie premiere. "The Spider-Man appeal cuts across our primary, secondary and tertiary viewer," says Bajpai. That may perhaps explain why the 'Big One' of 2003 - Gladiator - failed to generate similar response for the channel. "Gladiator may have not done as well, but people do remember HBO as the channel which showcases all the blockbusters. Not all 'Big Ones' get high ratings; but true to our promise of showing 70 per cent of the 2003 blockbusters to Indian viewers, we have tried our best to become the one-point destination for blockbusters."

So which is the next big one? Says Bajpai, "Wait till the summer…." © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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