D(h)oomsday Prediction: The ABC of Movie Franchises

I admit! I am a cinemaholic and just so that we are clear; no I am not about to turn this thing into a movie review blog.

The world of cinema is replete with lessons in marketing. God knows many a trainers have borrowed freely from cinema to add that zing to their otherwise tardy workshops.

Came across an interesting article recently that was talking about some of the most successful movie franchises and that set me thinking. What better to write about on the eve of one of the most awaited releases of the year Dhoom3.

The brand manager in me always has a tough time convincing the product manager in me about a lot many things in general but the hardest tussle invariably is with regard to making lead horses out of product “specifications” instead of a product features or more importantly a product benefit.

A very senior colleague who was the Sr.VP while I was just a wet behind the ears management trainee learning product management ropes always used to insist on receiving a “FAB (Feature-Advantage-Benefit) Chart” along with every New Product communication.

He drilled into me (and boy am I thankful for it!) that a good product communication should Attract Attention to the product features, Build Interest around the advantages over a competing product and most importantly Convey Benefits of the experience of using/consuming the product.

How is that relevant to this conversation? Well, thats a conversation that the marketers of the Dhoom “franchise” haven’t seem to have had.

The success of the first in the series Dhoom was credited to the slick production, a pacy cops and robbers caper with bikes, babes and attitude thrown in. The actors were incidental. The second time around it was a heist again, a new robber and more eye candy for both men and women. It’s here that the product specs (read Hrithik Roshan) drew A LOT of attention and have led us to the topic at hand.

To open my argument I shall contrast the movie franchise with the iPad evolution.

The Apple conversations have always been at the benefit level. The first iPad was a category creator and we have seen Steve Jobs explain passionately about how the Pad fit into this gap between the smartphone and the laptop! The iPad 2 got FaceTime into the equation and now the iPad Air. The specifications of the latest launch iPad Air…. A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor. 9.7inch display with 2048×1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch 7.5mm thin, 469gms etc etc.
Ask any geek and they would say these are kick-ass. While the folks at Apple have never ever compromised on the tech specs they almost always use them as incidental to their communication.This has helped them keep the aspiration levels of the brand intact as the comparison if any, with competition or a predecessor product is never at this level.

All the buzz that has been created has been around Aamir Khan, the teasers concentrate on his look his part in the movie but fail to impress or generate any interest around the plot. Too much attention on the specifications. The followers of the series do not need to convinced about Aamir, what they need to be impressed about is how the plot has evolved and what they can expect when they walk into the cinema halls.

Sure there have been over 14.2Mn views on YouTube and theres a Dhoom 3 the game and that all the indicators are there for a rocking box office performance.The marketers at YRF have done their bit to get money in for Dhoom 3 but have they done a good job building Dhoom the brand and the franchise? I say no but then we’ll talk about that when and if there is a Dhoom 4.


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