‘Baahubali’ (English meaning: The One with Strong Arms) is an Indian epic-historical fiction film filled with oodles of drama, action and visual art. The franchise had two cinematic parts namely ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’ as the first part which opened worldwide on 10th July 2015. The second installment in this series, ‘Baahubali 2: The Conclusion’ released on 28th April 2017.
This magnum opus feature film was directed by S S Rajamouli. Produced by Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni, the film was initially shot as a bilingual in Telugu and Tamil but was later dubbed into Hindi and other international languages too.
Starring Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka Shetty and Tamannaah Bhatia in the lead roles, the other actors in supporting roles were Ramya Krishnan, Sathyaraj and Nassar.
The first film was made with a budget of ₹180 crore, which was considered the most expensive in India, back then. Both the parts were supposed to be produced on a joint budget of ₹250 crore initially. But according to one of the producers Shobu, the joint budget was later increased to around ₹400-₹450 crore range, especially for the sequel.
★ Business Objectives:
1) Right from the onset, the chief people linked with this project had a clear vision to have a massive pan-India release for the franchise.
2) They wanted to make a national film, instead of letting it stay restricted only to regional languages like Telugu and Tamil. Even at their first trailer screening event, the director talked about his deep emotional connect with epic works of literature like ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’ along with comic books called ‘Amar Chitra Katha’, which further gave him the inspiration to conceptualize the idea behind this film.
3) By integrating all the cinematic parameters with state-of-the-art technology, the makers wished to provide an optimum user experience on celluloid so as to win hearts of the mass audience.
★ Highly Effective Social Media Campaigns and Digital Marketing Strategies Undertaken:
Here is a curated list of how ‘Baahubali’ franchise dominated the social media game comprehensively.
1) WhatsApp –
As part of their promotional maneuvres, the film’s unit started with one of the most widely-used instant messaging platforms, WhatsApp. Months before the release of the first part, they announced a unique phone number (+918096755222) to give exclusive updates about the film to their fans who registered for the same, on 27th December 2014.
2) Facebook –
They ran various campaigns on FB to stay well-connected with their ardent fans. Be it the ‘Baahubali Profile Picture Frame’ contest, broadcasting ‘Live’ on Facebook by offering titbits about the film or the ‘Baahubali Comics’ using Facebook canvas (immersive and interactive mobile ad-experience purpose), each idea generated a lot of buzz. One of the noted campaigns was the launch of Baahubali-themed animated stickers inside FB Messenger app, which saw a sudden spike in its downloads within a week. Their official Facebook page has a fan base of more than 4.21 million till date and is still counting.
3) YouTube –
Just like the methods of storytelling in Bollywood have changed drastically in past few years, so have the techniques in social media marketing too. Their team unveiled short ‘Making-of’ and ‘Behind-the-scene’ videos on their official YouTube channel, sporting the film’s lead actors and actresses on their respective birthday occasions. This plainly kept the audience on their toes, every other month. Fans and followers were up for a visual treat after viewing numerous dialogue-trailers, which kept those anticipated subscribers captivated for a brief period of time.
4) Instagram –
Their official Instagram account also observed high engagement-rate from the audience all over the world, where every uploaded photo witnessed thousands of ‘likes’ each time. Currently, it possesses 496K followers on Instagram.
5) Twitter –
Since the movie took over the world audience by storm, such huge was the magnitude of its craze that quite many hashtags like #Baahubali, #BaahubaliOnJuly10th, #LiveTheEpic, #ReLiveTheEpic, #Baahubali2, #BaahubaliAtComicCon, etc. remained favourites of members of the Twitterati for months. Their team even ran ‘Baahubali Quest’ Twitter campaigns by cleverly asking their followers to follow the cast & crew’s social media profiles by using the hashtag #ADayWithBaahubali, in order to win lucky tickets for the movie. The film’s official Twitter handle has slightly more than 576K followers so far.
6) Website –
Possessing a self-hosted website is totally advisable for one’s brand, which can then rank higher in search engines if it is popular or generating huge traffic. And in the case of the official website of ‘Baahubali’ film franchise, it was no different.
7) Merchandise –
An array of merchandise including ‘Baahubali’ lifestyle accessories, gadget add-ons, costumes and film’s collectibles were made available on their website, thus allowing the film to generate extra revenue. Such post-movie-release game plan was bound to bear fruit because the film’s re-watch value escalated and so did the audience engagement rate.
8) Tumblr –
Fans from all over the world poured their enormous love and showed respect for their favourite characters in the film, undoubtedly! Exclusive and profuse amount of user-generated content was received in the time leading up to the film’s release. Thus the film’s back-end team decided to cash in on this opportunity by using a short-form blog to promote the multimedia and other forms of content. Traditional art sketches, digital artwork, unconventional materials and fan mails constituted this website in countless numbers.
9) Blog –
One of the many uses of possessing a blog is that it is nothing but a cost-effective form of content marketing. With a view to providing more insights on the worldwide success that ‘Baahubali’ franchise had achieved, their team kept sharing timely and relevant information on their official blog.
10) Official Game app –
The reliability and user engagement of ‘Baahubali: The Game (Official)’ app can be very well judged from the fact that it generated 10 million+ downloads from Google Play Store with an average user rating of 4.4 out of 5.
11) Official Movie app –
The makers of the film utilized Google Play Store platform not just to market their game app, but even for their movie app. Named as ‘Baahubali – Official Movie App’, it garnered 10,000+ downloads and received a rating of 4.8 on 5.
★ Reactions and Reception :
The mimic question “Why Kattappa Killed Baahubali?” grabbed the humongous attention of viewers on national and international platforms alike. In less than no time, the hashtag #WKKB went viral on social media platforms, almost like throwing gasoline on a fire. Every other WhatsApp forward message or Troll pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram had posts/feeds flooded with priceless memes around it, every other day. It made the audience laugh hard till their stomach hurt and this scenario continued for many months ahead.
Even a plethora of blogs and websites indirectly used various content marketing techniques to come up with special-dedicated versions of their comments/views on this movie – be it about its characters or music or VFX and what not. This further produced a ripple effect to encourage word of mouth, favoring the already released ‘Baahubali’ as well as for ‘Baahubali 2’ (which, at that time, was slated for an official release about 2 years later after the arrival of the first part).
All in all, it almost became a herculean task to handle the curiosity that had already been built up for ‘Baahubali 2’. It is learned that owing to the blockbuster success of the first part, the second part had already gathered enough limelight even months before its release.
This ultimately made the audience make beelines for the tickets counters of theatres/malls day-in and day-out, thereby setting the box office cash registers ringing from dawn to dusk (for both the movie parts).
★ Results Achieved:
(a) Record-breaking movie ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’, the first installment in this movie series grossed a whopping ₹600 crore worldwide.
(b) In India, ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’ became the fourth Facebook’s most talked-about topic of the year 2015, after PM Narendra Modi, E-commerce Boom and late president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
(c) ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’ topped the Google (India) ‘Trending Movies’ list of the year 2015 and also secured the second position in Google (India) ‘Trending Searches’ list of the year 2015.
(d) The official trailer of ‘Baahubali 2: The Conclusion’ gained 59.8 million views within first 24 hours across the world (YouTube, Facebook and Twitter platforms combined), when it released online on 16th March 2017.
(e) ‘Baahubali 2: The Conclusion’ is still having a historic run in theaters, at present. The results of their team’s vision and hard work have now come to such a point, that the film series is still earning crores of rupees as their net profit and it currently boasts as the 2nd highest grossing Indian movie in the worldwide collection. It became the first ever Indian film to gross over ₹1000 crore in all languages, by achieving this mark in simply ten days and has already collected ₹1706.5 crore globally till now. Touted as India’s biggest movie franchise, their other lists of national and international accolades are just endless. By breaking major box-office records, it set a new benchmark for the Indian Film Industry.
★ Key Learnings:
• As part of the film’s well planned viral marketing and engagement marketing techniques, back-to-back ‘refreshed’ content kept emerging out one after the other systematically, to grow brand following. The team multiplied the content in the form of ‘Baahubali’ customized image posters, half-a-minute snippets, graphic novel books, animated web series, etc. that kept the buzz alive for literally four to five years, which was nothing less than a journey.
• For better clarity about the brand/business promotion on popular social networking platforms, innovative and out-of-the-box tactics need to be attempted constantly.
• The potential of digital marketing ecosystem in this 21st century is merely endless, as this industry is progressing at an ever-growing rate, not only in India but throughout the world. It is utmost essential to keep oneself updated about the latest trends and technologies in digital marketing from time to time (if one wants to sustain for a long time in this sector).
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