In a Twitter post this week, Amitabh Bachchan put up a group photograph, congratulating the people in it as the team of Pink and commenting on what a brilliant job they had done. This would have kept the positive conversation around Pink alive, except for one single factor. The team in the picture was all male — something the Twitterati were quick to point out — that goes against the message of the film itself.
Interestingly enough, this is not the first or the only time that a movie promotion tactic has backfired. Just take Shah Rukh Khan’s disastrous train ride for Raees promotions or Varun Dhawan being inundated by twins asking for individual photos during Judwaa 2 promotions. While Lipstick Under My Burkha was able to use all the controversy around the film to its fullest advantage to create more of a buzz, Simran’s controversies only managed to take the focus away from the film itself.
It’s when the team tries to go above and beyond its usual tactics that it flounders, explains filmmaker Karan Anshuman. “Everyone wants to stand out in some way when promoting films. As a result, they sometimes go overboard and their plan backfires,” he says, adding that Twitter posts again have to be something that celebrities should be careful about. “We really need to stop treating Twitter like a place where we can lose all verbal filter. People need to think about what they are tweeting before they actually put up a post. It’s true that sometimes you don’t know what a reaction to a certain post is going to be, but especially when promotions for some film is happening, we need to be careful about what we put up on social media,” he asserts.
A bit of risk-taking is not a bad idea in such situations, feels filmmaker Bejoy Nambiar. “Any promotions for a film is decided by the entire production and marketing team with the director putting in his own opinions. Everyone wants to stand out in this situation, so they come up with varied methods and tactics to do so. While thinking up promos, it’s nearly impossible to know what will work and what won’t,” he shrugs.
However, when a strategy does backfire, the fallout can be quite a complete nightmare, says Alpua Turakhiaa, a publicist, who has worked on promoting films like Kaabil and Lipstick Under My Burkha.
“At times there is a possibility of the promo backfiring and in such a case, we go into immediate damage control. Damage control depends on the scale and the type of issue that is there, and is not a one-person job. We all collectively assess and solve the issue whether it is with the media or the client. For instance, it is common that one’s statement in an interview gets misconstrued by some, and it becomes a huge faux pas. Even though that is not a slip up from our end or the client’s end, we as the PR company of the client immediately would release a statement contradicting the rumours and if need be, with evidence to back the same,” she explains.
Half Girlfriend director Mohit Suri, however, is all in favour of cutting costs when it comes to promotions, wishing people would spend more time on the trailers instead. “The teaser, trailer and the songs are what will pique audience interest. Promotions help to bring the actors and filmmakers into the limelight more than the film. The only things that carry a film forward are only these three factors I mentioned. Baahubali 2 is a prime example of that. They went through none of the usual promotional rigmarole but since the trailer was so good and the suspense from the first movie was built so high, people already wanted to watch it. As for keeping the conversation going afterwards, if the film has quality content, people will keep talking about it anyway. Sometimes I wish that people would spend more time on a properly-cut trailer than social media posts or reality show appearances,” he concludes.