Gone are the days when only classic hits like ‘Star Wars’ and ‘The Godfather’ could sell their memorabilia; nowadays merchandising has become a huge source of revenue and is something that is focused upon right from the pre-production stage. Nearly 40% of all film merchandise is sold before the release date. The most common tie-ups being with clothing, food and toy or figurine partners. The increased growth in movie merchandising has also meant that it has become a highly competitive sector.

Film and entertainment are huge industries that have stood the test of time. Like everything else that has grown better with age, the greatest merchandising campaigns have taught us a few lessons:

Let’s Get The Basics Straight

One needs to understand that a film’s producer or director DOES NOT manufacture film- related products themselves, but rather license the right to sell these products to a third party. This situation is a win-win for the film’s producer/director because it is an indirect promotion of his or her film, and if the movie does not do well, only the third party incurs the loss caused by average sales. To top it all off, as a licensee, the film earns part of the revenue made from such merchandising.

To Merchandise, Or Not To Merchandise?

Despite its popularity, product merchandising still isn’t the first option in a promotional campaign. Only movies that are sure to be a pop culture hit, say like ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘Lord of the Rings’ can confidently invest in such a venture. Research has found that sequels and children’s movies are the highest grossing categories in selling merchandise. This doesn’t come as a surprise because sequels tend to have the capacity to build their fan base over a period of time and the latter because children tend to be an easy target.

The popularity of a film cannot be easily predicted. While a film like ‘Avengers’ was with no doubt going to be a super hit, a film like ‘Despicable Me’ would never have expected such a response. The popularity of the minions in the film is nothing short of a shocker, and the film actually went on to make much more revenue in terms of product retail as compared to The Avengers. Why? The Avengers was considered as just another super hero movie and their initial merchandising was only targeted toward young boys. It wasn’t until much after the success of the film that clothing and food brands decided to build on the franchise. But in the case of the minions, their target audience wasn’t restricted in terms of gender or age.

Give And Take Policy

Another interesting fact is that this type of marketing is a two way street. Movies taking advantage of a brand’s popularity is a well known promotional perception, but what about brands that take advantage of a movies’ imminent popularity. The popularity of the Aston Martin because of the Bond movies and the ammunition brand Walther in the famous war drama ‘The Inglorious Bastards’ are fine examples in this right. Back home, the recent blockbuster ‘Happy New Year ‘ made a whopping Rs. 30 crore in product placements in the film!

One of the most spoken about products recently has been the Fifty Shades of Grey Teddy Bear. A teddy bear carrying handcuffs and a mask, dressed in a sleek suit can be quite a disturbing image, but it did turn out to be one of the biggest sellers this Valentine’s Day. There’s the unexpected nature of promotion we’re talking about!

So Where Does Bollywood Stand?

Film merchandising in Bollywood is a relatively new concept.. Just like our films the promotion of products by movie stars has long been famous, but never has a movie used products as a promotional vehicle. Pantaloons was probably one of the first brands to sell copies of clothing used in famous films and not long back did YashRaj films also start their own Merchandising unit. Superhero movies like Ra.One and Krissh were some of the pioneers who felt it necessary to tap into this lucrative source of revenue.Another surprising success in the merchandising sector has been the Dabang franchise with their much beloved Chulbul Pandey as the protagonist!

It is to be understood that movie-related merchandising is risky considering the indefinite success or failure of a film. At the same time, it can be a great source of revenue and at times has known to surpass the collections received directly from the film. This is an exciting time for Bollywood with the advent of new age cinema, how they choose to integrate film based merchandising at a higher level though, is yet to be seen.

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