How to create successful content marketing campaign for movies and web shows

Rishabh Khatter, Studio Head, The Rabbit Hole, explains how the video content creation agency plans campaigns around movies and web series and what film marketers should not do if they want to promote their content

Akanksha Nagar
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Rishabh Khatter

The success of a movie or a web show is dependent on the quality of its content. But its success also depends on how that particular movie or web show is marketed. 

Creative production houses that conduct these marketing activities and create content around movies play a pivotal role in getting the audiences interested. 

"The only way film marketers can continue to create winning strategies is by unlearning everything,” said Rishabh Khatter, Studio Head, The Rabbit Hole.

“The audience has undergone a transformation, wherein they are appreciating content that does not oversell. One of the most critical aspects of film marketing is understanding the pulse of the movie and what makes it unique to the audiences. This is probably why movies such as Pagglait are taking the centre stage. The simple yet mature nature of the film combined with the marketing strategy that focused on ‘women taking charge of their lives’ was well received by audiences. The calm narrative of strength mirrored in the promotions,” he said.

Khatter believes the accelerated digital transformation, the influx of mature audiences, dramatic changes in optimising budgets, and the changing narrative of the films and series in the country have cast a wider net of opportunities for film marketers.

Today, they have a plethora of options such as meme marketing, Reels, Twitter, macro-micro-nano influencers, original content videos, etc., at their disposal. Innovative concepts create an environment of stronger resonance with the audience. He also said it is important to assess the pulse and theme of the movie and connect with the audiences with a good social media mix, which will lead to the creation of a loyal community.

 Films today build engagement with the audiences even before the launch and it is about aligning the right set of content beats that lead up strongly to the launch date of the film.

“There isn't one templatised way of doing this. It is about leveraging the theme of the film and creating in world and out world curiosity with a mix of strategic announcements and editorial beats. This mix and balance is crucial to maintain,” he said.

Even an influencer’s community plays an important role in the marketing mix of movies.

He said collaborating with influencers is done with two different outcomes in mind: one is to inform about content already existing on the platform, like what Rabbit Hole does with Behensplaing — the weekly film review show hosted by Kusha Kapila and Srishti Dixit, where they give a behen's perspective on the title already on Netflix.

The other is casting a wider net of influencers to tap into their followers to create awareness about an upcoming film. Here, he said that the treatment of content and making pieces that are authentic to who they are and why the followers engage with them is critical.

The agency has created some noteworthy branded content for various big brands and movies.

For its latest film marketing campaign, Jagame Thandhiram, Netflix’s Tamil film, it had to go big to get the attention of the masses on Tamil cinema, and reach out to the Dhanush fans.

Its campaign paid homage to traditional film marketing with a 40-foot cut-out of Dhanush, and got a graffiti artist to recreate the poster of the film. Also, it had Tanmay Bhatt reacting to the film’s trailer which got the attention of the masses.

For another Netflix flick ‘Haseen Dillruba’, which is a murder mystery (in which  Aditya Srivastava aka Inspector Abhijeet of CID fame plays the investigating officer), it created “The Ultimate Kaunspiracy” and leveraged the popularity and the nostalgic connect audiences have with the show to recreate a fun piece of editorial content.

It made way for organic conversations and a lot of eyeballs on the upcoming film. This led to a whole bunch of earned media for the title.

Khatter said branded video content is a dynamic space and the agency is constantly evolving to cater to the pulse of the brand’s audience.

Additionally, he said, “Our clients believe in our capabilities to execute our audacious pitches as we not only create great ads on brand love but meet business objectives too.”

 The agency has also undertaken several content campaigns for brands

To ensure that its work is methodically done and is authentic to cultural behaviours and insights, it goes to the extent of bringing in consultants to help the agency with its projects.

For instance, for its Tinder’s Pride Day campaign that helps people to understand the LGBTQ community in a simple conversational manner, Khatter said it had achieved this because of the insights it received from the consultants.

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Apart from that, as the format and the consumption of content is changing, it is becoming increasingly imperative for brands to create content that is non-intrusive in nature and sparks conversations with the audience to either educate or entertain them.

And to achieve so, he said, “The content needs to be persuasive to keep them hooked on the screen. With so much content at the disposal of the consumer, it is important that your piece of branded content sparks a positive brand sentiment with audiences.” The same can also lead to better sales too.

“The regularity of the content and consistency in treatment helps in building ‘brand love’ across all target audiences. ‘Brand love’ is a clear indication of a loyal community that you are building which ultimately impacts a brand’s bottom funnel and when you make ‘brand love’ a proper metric to go after, coupled with performance media, that’s just gold as an approach,” he added.

Asked how the success of any branded content also depends upon the brands’ brief and objectives, he said it is a unifying document between brand and agency. When brands define the action that they want the consumer to undertake through a unified message they want communicated, to arrive at a clear promised benefit, it makes the job of the agency easier. There is a clear direction of focus.

“The underlying trust that exists between both the parties is essential in determining the success or the failure of a campaign. It is imperative that the agency is not swayed by creative liberties while suggesting ideas and pass over the final objective. On the part of the brand, it is necessary that they treat agencies as partners and trust that they are all focused on achieving the brand goal. This instils a sense of purpose and ownership as content creators. A lot can be achieved through experimentation and a brand’s willingness to explore newer concepts and ideas,” he added.

He is of the belief that the relationship between brands and agencies has undergone a momentous transformation, with most brands treating them as ‘consultants’ rather than seeing them as mere execution machinery.

Marketing strategies are getting increasingly complex in terms of data, tech, creative ideation, and execution. As both strive to stay ahead of the curve and deliver solutions that highlight innovativeness of thought, he said, “The brand-agency relationship has evolved to be that of ‘business partners’. Empathy and an underlying sense of trust and partnership act as a trump card for all stakeholders.”

Rishabh Khatter The Rabbit Hole Studio Head