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Running for eyeballs

By Rashmi Menon , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing
Last updated : July 15, 2013
What is it about the movie on the 'Flying Sikh' that has made it a magnet for several brands?

Although Bhaag Milkha Bhaag released last Friday, the buzz surrounding it intensified much earlier, courtesy the brands associated with it. The movie depicts the real life story of athlete Milkha Singh and was not only considered the most eagerly awaited movie of the year, but has also successfully caught the interests of various brands going by the number of associations it has generated.

In what seems to have become a trend, almost all brands associated with the movie have used footages from the movie to show how the story connects with their brand's proposition. Another common thread is the strategy of connecting with the audience on an emotional level.

Some of the brands that have associated with Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (BMB) include Amul, Getit Infomedia, Birla Sun Life,, Omron, Adidas and Royal Enfield.

So, what is it about the 'biopic' of Milkha Singh that has worked as a magnet for the brands? The answer, to a great extent, lies in the movie's story and cast. Besides having youth icon Farhan Akhtar playing the lead role, the movie is an inspirational story of a real life athlete who has done the nation proud. In that respect, it is one of the few true-life sports personality's 'struggle-to-success' story that has been churned out by Bollywood.

For Birla Sun Life Insurance, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag resonated with the brand's philosophy of being prepared for life's uncertainties. In fact, this is the first time the brand has associated with a movie.

Ajay Kakar, chief marketing officer, Aditya Birla Group Financial Services says the reason for the association with the movie was its portrayal of Milkha Singh not as a sports person but as a person, who throughout life has faced different kinds of uncertainties and hardships. Bur rather than getting discouraged, he chose to fight back.

"This movie is bang on to create self realisation among masses about the role insurance can play in their lives. This is yet another opportunity for us to create the realisation. Even in our earlier ad with cricketer Yuvraj Singh, we have always called him the brand's philosophy ambassador," says Kakar. However, he quickly stresses, "We are not associating with the movie but the inspirational story."

Considering sports is all about trying to give out the best performance, Getit Infomedia came on board with the theme 'Winners Search for the best', which is what the brand claims to offer through its wide services.

Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, which owns the brand Amul, took an even more interesting route. The brand didn't need to resort to a product placement, considering its core product - milk - was instrumental in kick-starting Milkha Singh's career. Apparently, Singh ran his first cross country race, soon after joining the army, for a cup of milk, making the movie a perfect match for Amul.

For Amul, the film association was planned and coordinated by Lodestar UM Brand Experience, along with BMB's production house, Viacom 18. The campaign has used radio and social media as well. Incidentally, in the past, Amul has associated with Hollywood movies - The Amazing Spiderman and Man of Steel.

Then there is OMRON, a technology brand whose association with the movie was largely influenced by the fact that Farhan Akhtar was playing the lead role. Akhtar has been the brand's ambassador for the last two years. However, the brand, like Birla Sun Life, found the movie's inspirational tale in sync with the brand's philosophy and vision.

Takuichi Shimizu, president, OMRON Management Centre of India, says the whole campaign aims to create brand awareness and recognition. "Just as Milkha inspired the future generations by becoming the first athlete to represent India in the Olympics with grit and conviction, OMRON also has been introducing many first of its kind innovations in the world of technology, touching and inspiring millions of lives in healthcare and industrial automation domains," Shimizu says. This is the brand's first movie partnership in India.

Associated support

Almost all brands have relied heavily on the digital platform to promote the association established via television commercials.

Ajay Kakar

Manu Kumar Jain

Royal Enfield has started a contest titled '2 Legends. 1 Odyssey' on its website, where users can send in stories of their personal Odyssey containing elements of perseverance, passion and sacrifice, much like those experienced by the movie's character, Milkha Singh. The winner will walk away with the same Royal Enfield bike used by Akhtar in the movie.

Similarly, to promote its exclusive sports merchandise for men and women, has been running a contest on Facebook and Twitter, with the winners getting an opportunity to win couple movie tickets and music CDs. In the blogging sphere, the lifestyle brand has asked bloggers to write on "How to be fashionable while working out" on their blog. The best ones stand a chance to win music CDs, couple movie tickets and vouchers from the brand.

Speaking about what made the brand partner with the movie, Manu Kumar Jain, co-founder, says the idea was to keep up with the changing trends in fashion and emulate styles brought in by the latest Bollywood movies. This is the brand's second film association, the first being Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani, which was released some time ago, for which the brand received tremendous response.

While OMRON's TVC campaign will end this week, its online and outdoor campaign will continue till the end of July. On the digital front, the brand is promoting BMB's association through interesting contests on Facebook, Twitter and other online portals.

Realising that insurance is not an impulse category, Birla Sun Life does not expect a sudden increase in its client base. "However, the more examples I give you, the chances are you will move to the category and decide to buy insurance. And then, there is a chance that you will choose this brand. Our strategy has been the emotional connect," Kaker points out. The brand's TV campaign will conclude this week. The campaign is also spread across radio, cinemas and via internal and external activations.

Interestingly, Getit is also carrying out a 'Meet the Stars' contest internally, where Getit's high performing sales team will get a chance to meet and interact with the movie's cast.

Going by the interest of brands, this synergy to associate with Bhaag Milkha Bhaag will only increase in the coming days, given that the movie is already being perceived as a hit.

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First Published : July 15, 2013


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