Will Thugs of Hindostan dent brand Aamir Khan?

Friday Brands, Aamir Khan

With Thugs of Hindostan finally, in the theatres, the race for the 400 crore club has once again begun. And brand Aamir is once again in the centre of that discussion. The critics have not made it any easier for him with rating all in the 2.5 stars.! Time to look at how the brand Aamir has emerged over the years.

Aamir Khan has emerged in recent times as the most innovative marketer of his films. Besides, being a brilliant film director and actor, Aamir has now become also one of the most creative marketers in the world. If there was an award for the most innovative marketing campaign, it would certainly be awarded to Ghajini which changed the dynamics of In-Cinema advertising. In-Cinema advertising was always limited to In-Cinema Slides and Television Commercials.

Aamir khan with Amaitabh Bacchan at Trailer launch
Aamir Khan with Amitabh Bachchan at the Trailer launch

However what Ghajini did was unthinkable. They tied up with leading multiplexes in Mumbai wherein the staff was seen sporting the famous Ghajini hairstyle. This promotion was done when the audience went to watch Shahrukh Khan’s ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’, which released in theatres on 11th December 2008 whereas Ghajini was releasing about a month and a half later on 24th December. The crowd loved this unique promotion and this became a talking point for quite some time.

Aamir Khan came up with yet another idea to promote his film P.K. It seems that during a discussion about marketing plans for the film, the actor suggested that they have some fun and introduce a tool for audience interaction. A source said, “Rajkumar Hirani and Aamir are keen to work with some never seen before ideas. While speculations were rife about Aamir’s character in the film, rumour mills suggested that he plays an alien in PK. Aamir’s cross-dressing for the film and his turban wearing act in Jaipur for this film, had already caught everybody’s fancy and Aamir also released a poster of PK where he was completely nude except for a radio covering his frontal. There was also buzz in the media, mostly speculative gossip that suggested the actor would walk naked on railway tracks to give the message to people that they should not do their morning business on railway tracks.

The film’s marketing team placed standees in cinema halls months in advance so as to generate curiosity. Moreover, Aamir suggested that instead of putting up a regular standee, they should mix things up a bit by having the cutout play recorded messages from Aamir himself.  This meant that audiences could actually speak to Aamir’s standees that were placed in leading cinema halls over the weekend. Even though some stills from the film were leaked out, the crew managed to keep Aamir’s look under wraps. There was many speculations about his look and his character, so Aamir and Rajkumar Hirani wanted to cash in on it in an innovative fashion. A spokesperson for the film confirmed the story. “This is surely the first time that a Bollywood film will have a talking standee. It adds an interesting element to a static marketing tool,” said the spokesperson.

friday brands, thugs of hindostan
Thugs of Hindostan team at the Trailer launch

For Reema Kagti’s Talaash starring Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukerji, the film created suspense prior to release. It was already hyped since it was an Aamir Khan starrer. The actor in a unique promotional strategy announced that fans could book tickets in advance at theatres (multiplexes) way before the film released. No one had dared to do this before, when the release date was almost three months away, as reported in the media. Not only that, Aamir also tied up with popular Indian TV show C.I.D. where he played a cop, just like in the film, to help solve a crime. Aamir also appeared on several popular TV shows to ensure the film had a wider reach with audiences. The Talaash team also interacted with crime reporters from different cities and as per a report in India Today, a Twitter contest was also launched where fans would get a chance to meet Aamir.

However, his marketing ideas for 3 Idiots are the most original. True to his character in the film, he actually went missing pre-release. A prize was announced for whoever located him and he involved his friend and cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar, who happily agreed to be a part of the promotional campaign. This was an interesting way of creating hype around the film. He ensured that he travelled across the country in disguises and told his fans that they would be left guessing, they wouldn’t even know if he was in their midst. This is what is called Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG) where the game is played in a real world, with Aamir being the character. The first clue was given by cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar after watching the film’s trial. This was heights of being secretive and unique. The media went berserk and we saw Aamir in different looks all over the country. He was seen in places like Benaras disguised as an old man and various other avatars in other parts. He also painted walls of washrooms in certain theatres. There were slogans that said, “you are an idiot” next to the cubicles in the men’s restroom. And a washroom at one of the multiplexes welcomed movie-goers with a message you are “the Fourth Idiot”. This was part of promoting the film 3 Idiots.

Then Aamir printed stickers for autorickshaws that said ‘Capacity: 3 Idiots’. The rickshaws were introduced in the city and plied in both central and western suburbs. A daily reported that these stickers were seen on around 10,000 rickshaws in cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Gujarat, Jaipur, Kota, Lucknow, Kanpur, Patna, Kolkata, Bhopal, Indore, Bangalore and Chennai.

Two months before the film’s release, no one knew much about it. There were no signs or hoarding about 3 Idiots and this was befuddling. But suddenly, the film’s trailer was launched. According to a report in Forbes India, Aamir was designing T-Shirts. He was quoted saying in Forbes India, “I said I can’t design, I’m not a designer, but I can give you my doodles.” Pantaloons also created a doodle T-shirt that was an instant hit and was sold out almost immediately! He also gifted bum chairs, the kind seen in the film where Aamir, Sharman Joshi and R Madhavan are seeing sitting on it during a song…

And now villages of Ludhiana have been given a complete Haryanvi transformation as the city gets ready for Aamir’s forthcoming film ‘Dangal’.

Based on the real life saga of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, filming Aamir Khan’s latest movie ‘Dangal’ is set to begin in Kila Raipur, Narangwal, Gujjarwal and Leelan villages of Ludhiana in Punjab.

When a newspaper team visited the proposed sets of ‘Dangal’ where an art and designing team were working to complete work before September 15, when Aamir arrived there.

Many villagers said they were “employed” by the team from Mumbai.

Old homes in the village were renovated and even shopkeepers in streets where shooting would take place were being paid by the team. They are given contract of civil works and carpenter works to our villagers, said Jaswinder Singh Babbu, sarpanch of Gujjarwal village. An old home that had been locked for years in the streets of Gujjarwal village will be depicted as Mahavir Phogat’s home.

Aamir Khan, Friday brands
Aamir Khan

Hoardings and banners in Punjabi have been revamped in Hindi and Haryanvi. The production team has also hired local residents in the film after intense screen tests. “They needed local faces who can match the physique and looks of Haryana wrestlers. Boys have already started preparing and some are even going bald,” said the sarpanch. Kesar Singh, sarpanch of Kila Raipur village, said, “Our village is famous for its rural Olympics held annually and now we are proud that Punjab villages have been chosen over Haryana for the shooting.” A wrestling ring has been created in Kila Raipur.

Aamir Khan’s latest Blockbuster Thugs of Hindostan released yesterday to a huge response. But the critics have panned it universally as lacking in a proper screenplay and the absence of an engrossing plot. Will this negative response create a dent in the brand Amir. Let’s wait for the final verdict from the box office.



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