Bollywood is being called out for its recent marketing strategies by trade analysts. Some of their recent marketing tactics are being called into question, especially the Buy-One-Get-One (BOGO) ticket offers and paid influencer online posts in trying to dupe the audience and them not even doing anything good since the movies would then go on to incur big losses.

Showing inflated ticket sales or viral online engagement are being used to boost the film’s name, however, they are not really bringing the positive results expected and could be severely harming the Indian film industry.

Buy One Get One Free (BOGO)

The buy-one-get-one (BOGO) ticket offers are being heavily questioned, having been brought into practice since 2023. The Vicky Kaushal-Sara Ali Khan starrer Zara Hatke Zara Bachke was supposedly among the first to get the BOGO deal from its very opening weekend.

The trend has just increased in the movies it’s applied to with Teri Baaton Mein Uljha Jiya, Crew, Maidaan, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan having the offer while Vidya Balan-Pratik Gandhi’s Do Aur Do Pyaar had BOGO from the release day.

The concept of BOGO simply means that the consumer will get one ticket free on the purchase of one ticket, in this scenario the viewer will pay for one ticket while the other ticket’s cost comes out of the producer’s pocket.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with this practice, it is the timing of it being called into question. Films like Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan and Jawan also had BOGO but it was only applied after its fourth-week run and crossing milestones, while Sunny Deol’s Gadar 2 had it only for the Raksha Bandhan holiday.

However, currently, films are seeing BOGO being there from the first day itself which in turn makes the total collection of the film questionable as the producer was putting their own money into the film’s box-office revenue.

Trade analyst Komal Nahta speaking on Dinesh Vijan’s Maddock Films’s Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya said “He (the producer) is taking money from one pocket, putting in another. The PVRs and the INOXs are very happy with this unhealthy trend, because they are assured of full revenue even if the films are bad. They couldn’t care less whether the audience is paying them or the producers themselves.”

Nahta further said “You are spoiling the industry norms, causing more harm to the industry at the cost of your own film,” and “You want to make profit but are not thinking of the larger interest. I know it is easier said than done, everyone is interested in making their money, but not at the cost of disturbing norms. It is almost like literally pulling in the audience saying, ‘Bas tum aajao cinemas mein, I know it is not a good film, but just come.’”

He also said “It is an accelerated position because once or twice this can work, but then people start saying, ‘Arey ye bakwaas film hai isiliye offer hai.‘ It is an extremely unhealthy trend.”

Fake Celebrity Marketing Stunts

There has also been a recent trend of fake celebrity marketing stunts where celebrities make online posts or are ‘filmed’ doing something, generating a lot of buzz and it all is revealed to have been a marketing ploy for a film or a brand campaign.

Nora Fatehi recently was in the news after calling out the ‘Lululemon’ brand for using her deepfake for advertising, which was later revealed to have been a brand partnership between her and HDFC Bank to raise awareness of deepfakes and fake scams.

Poonam Pandey was also in the news when she posted a post declaring she was dead, however, it turned out to be a hoax to raise awareness of cervical cancer. In another instance, a video of Ranbir Kapoor throwing a fan’s phone went viral, with many people showing anger about it and making call-out posts, but it was only an advertisement for the phone brand Oppo.

However, experts wonder what the repercussions of such marketing gimmicks will be. Manisha Kapoor, CEO, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) stated “When such tactics become frequent, they end up eroding the trust that consumers have in celebrities and brands. While there may be a short-term gain in terms of attention in a cluttered market, the credibility of the entire ecosystem gets compromised by repeated instances. Consumers start looking at advertising and brands with scepticism, not knowing what to believe. Any reduction in trust for brands and advertising eventually increases business costs.”

Read More: Breakfast Babble: Here’s Why I Feel ‘Bollywood Bhakti’ Should Be Debunked

Paid Influencers

Another harmful trend is the use of paid influencers who will promote a film or even downgrade another for a chargeable amount. As per an Indian Express report, “Twitter critics charge anywhere between Rs,15,000 to Rs 60,000 per tweet, depending on who the produces are tapping” and it can even go to Rs. 2 lakhs or above if it’s for the full campaign of the film.

A distributor said, “All that is done to manipulate the audience. But the viewers are the king, they just know a hit film, a bad film, good film or bad film. Who are you to decide that? Jab jeb se paise jaata hai, tab pata chalta hai picture kaisi hai.”

According to a trade insider “People who do their job with honesty, if their opinions are the same as the ‘samosa critics’, people will start questioning even their credibility. The audience doesn’t care about this, they will watch what they want to. Brahmastra was slammed by big critics, still it did business of Rs 240 cr. Your trailer, music is the make or break thing.”

As per the report, another source stated “If this stops, the industry will create something else. Like in the last five years, they have created influencers as well to promote their films, and now they are paying influencers to dance with them. Imagine a big star paying an influencer to do a reel with him? They will find innovative ways to ruin their own reputation. That won’t stop.”

Focused On Film Stars Than Real Audience

As per a Livemint report, one of the marketing fails the Indian film industry is doing is trying to focus more on pleasing the celebrities and producers instead of focusing on the real targets, the audience or making an actual impact.

The marketing campaigns are so disjointed thus, that they fail to catch the audience’s attention, or even if it does, they fail to get to the movie’s actual aim.

This then leads to the audience having a wrong perception of the film and going in expecting something and getting another thing entirely.

This was said to have happened with the marketing of films like Fighter, starring Hrithik Roshan, Deepika Padukone and more. Here the focus seemed to be on the celebrity power of the main leads rather than the film’s message, leading to a very messy marketing campaign, resulting in the film not doing as well as it should have.

Image Credits: Google Images

Feature image designed by Saudamini Seth

Sources: Afaqs, The Indian Express, Livemint

Find the blogger: @chirali_08

This post is tagged under: Bollywood, Bollywood marketing, Bollywood paid influencers, buy one get one ticket, bade miya chote miyan, paid influencers, Bollywood paid influencers, influencers, indian influencer, critics, Hindi film industry, bollywood marketing stunts, bollywood marketing trend

Disclaimer: We do not hold any right, or copyright over any of the images used, these have been taken from Google. In case of credits or removal, the owner may kindly mail us.

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