Role Of Digital Marketing In The Success Of Chennai Express

6 Min Read. |



Red Chillies Entertainment (RCE) is an Indian motion picture production and distribution company, based in Mumbai. The company was founded on 7 May 2002 by Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan and his wife Gauri Khan. Red Chillies Entertainment was ranked as the third, fifth and seventh most powerful production house in Bollywood in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively.

UTV Motion Pictures is a film unit of UTV Software Communications, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. UTV Motion Pictures as a dominant player in the Indian film industry has been in the forefront of bringing Indian films to a global audience and the last decade in Indian cinema has seen UTV Motion Pictures delivering some of the most iconic films.


Last few years have seen digital marketing for films become a centre point of focus in the overall marketing effort of a film. The movie ‘Chennai Express’, directed by Rohit Shetty and produced by UTV Motion Pictures and Red Chillies Entertainment, released in 2013, featured India’s biggest superstar, Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone in the lead roles. The Marketing team of this movie extensively used the Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Website, Mobile apps & games, Fanclubs….and other platforms to connect to the mass across the globe. However, keeping these tools aside; one of the biggest factors for Chennai Express’ digital success was integrating social media with the different digital products and repetitive analysis of the data which helped understand the mood and stand of the audience. This led to the movie and its social media presence last long even after the first week of release.

Red Chillies’ & UTV Motion Pictures’ Business Objectives:

As it was a high budgeted film showcasing the Global Megastar Shah Rukh Khan, expectations were high. Right from the onset, the Chennai Express digital team had a very clear objective of using social media as the focus of their marketing strategy. A movie which revolved around multi-cultural modern India and the mix bag of love and action, social media presented the perfect medium for engaging fans across geographies and cultural boundaries, along with giving a more than expected ROI. The planning and implementation of the social media marketing tactics began months before the actual release date of  the movie. The super stardom of both the lead actors and core social media strategies adopted tied together created a historical event in the 100 years of lifetime of Bollywood Film Industry.


  • Data Analytics played a vital role in figuring out what fans liked, and what was going through the audience’s mood. Big Data analytics and the various analysis tools provided Actionable Insights to the social media marketing team.
  • Social Networks Merged: Many of the Social Media campaigns of Chennai Express were designed in such a way that users of one social network had to often go to another one to move to the next step. For example, the video-based game used movie clips hosted on YouTube, was deployed on Facebook, and took user inputs from Twitter.
  • Mobile Strategy: Gaming is the interest of the youth. Digital team of Chennai Express used this craze to capture the imagination of gamers and increase the film’s popularity, ‘Chennai Express: Escape from Rameshwaram’, the movie’s official game, was launched on multiple platforms. This game was one of the highest rated style of games then and it suited the film’s theme too and was highly appreciated by the audience of this genre.

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  • Twitter Strategy: Various innovative campaigns and hashtags were extremely vital in keeping the buzz trending worldwide well beyond the opening weekend. Major Trends of the campaign were
Trending On
#ChennaiExpress The official hashtag of movie
#ChennaiExpressArrives The movie launch hashtag
#CE100crin3Days To mark the Box Office collections of 100 crores landmark reached in 3 days
#200croreExpress Celebrating the 200 crores Collections milestone
#LungiDance The viral dance hashtag
  •  Website: The Digital Marketing team and its head was very clear to have a standalone identity of  this film. The Chennai Express website was designed in such a way that most of the social media channels were integrated within it and was highly appreciated. It proved invaluable in creating high recall value for the movie campaign as an Overall trending strategy. It also included around 5-6 Browser-based Games, which were also adapted for use on mobiles and social media sites. This cross pollination helped the audience to engage more
  • Epic Trailer Launch Strategy: This was an exciting digital innovation and received overwhelming response on Twitter. For the first time ever a movie used Twitter to engage users and give them live redemption. Audience was required to Tweet their comments to make a train run over a virtual rail line from Mumbai to Rameshwaram. The more the tweets, the faster the train moved and as soon as the train reached Rameshwaram, the trailer was released to the eager fans. This gave fans a real sense of involvement alongside creating an amazing buzz around the trailer launch.


  • Chennai Express became the highest grossing Bollywood movie of all time till then. Along the way, every box office record was broken, including highest opening weekend collections in India, highest opening weekend collections for a Bollywood movie in USA & Canada, fastest Bollywood movie to make Rs. 100 crores and the fastest Bollywood movie to make Rs. 200 crores.
  • Around 18 brands were endorsed through in-movie marketing and overall around 30 brands directly or indirectly were benefited from the Chennai Express Marketing Strategies. The interesting adaptations used in the movie to endorse different associated brands added to the overall buzz around the movie as a whole. Conversations involving the “Palam Sarees” (brand wore by Deepika Padukone) brand experienced over half a million impressions on Twitter alone over a 7-day period.
  • Innovative campaigns and numerous hashtags played an extremely important role in keeping the buzz trending across the nation even after the opening weekend. A small glimpse at some numbers shows that Chennai Express related tweets generated over 1 billion cumulative impressions and the total number of tweets across all hashtags involved in the campaign was over 750 thousands.


  • Chennai Express made Twitter history in India as the first film to be listed in the top trends for more than 10 consecutive days. Two of the very famous hashtags used in the camapign, #ChennaiExpress and #ChennaiExpressWeekend, made this movie the first Bollywood film in Twitter history to trend at worldwide no 1 position at numerous instances
  • Throughout the campaign, a Chennai Express related hashtag was at the top of India’s trending charts, and often at the top of the world’s trending topics!


In addition to exploiting social media, the Digital Marketing team of Chennai Express used a variety of tools, business strategies, marketing tactics, and partners to reach out to the mass and generate a huge buzz before and during the movie release.We  get to learn that keeping up with the latest in digital and social media can make a remarkable difference to the marketing.

Data Analysis and the insights from Subject Matter Experts are very important in planning the various facets of a coordinated social media strategy. A strategy’s success on social media lies in grabbing the opportunities, being able to predict circumstances and planning for different eventualities which in turn has huge impact on the overall market value. Shah Rukh Khan and the success of Chennai Express have proved that social media and digital marketing is the channel of the future and that it presents unique opportunities to marketers and brands, at an unbeatable ROI.

To conclude, I would like to quote Shah Rukh Khan: “Effective marketing is really about connecting with your audience using all available media and talking to them on platforms that they are comfortable with”

Photo credits: Google Images

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1 Comment

  1. Shwetang Singh

    Thanks for giving me this guidance from this Article.


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