Ki & Ka – A new business model for movies

This is not a review of the movie. If it was a review, I’ll probably harp about how heavy-handed the movie was; something not expected from R. Balki of Cheeni Kum fame. I’ll probably also complain about the innumerable and unsubtle product placements. Instead, I think this movie is onto something, even-though it failed to make the final leap.

Here is the radical idea – ‘What if movies paid the viewers money to watch their film?’. I dont mean this as a ‘this movie was so bad, they should have paid me to watch it’ jibe. I think that it is not only a feasible proposition, it in fact makes great business sense. Product placement in movies is an age-old marketing trick. Filmmakers use it mostly to recover some of the production costs. Online video makers like AIB, TVF etc. finance themselves almost entirely through this. More recently, it has also been used to promote films by tying up with various brands, creating an advertising loop of sorts. Viewers generally do not mind this, as they expect higher production values as a result.

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Watching Ki & Ka, I realized that the production costs of the movie must have been far lower than the amount of disproportional  product placement that went in. As a viewer, I was forced to gulp down advertisements which did not necessarily fit the narrative of the story, which in fact even influenced the story for no apparent reason. However, it didn’t help improve the movie’s quality in any way. Still, I paid the same money to watch this, as I did to watch the far more subtle and engaging Kapoor & Sons which was made at similar costs (35 crores as opposed to 30 crores for Ki & Ka).

Now, I might be proven wrong, but I am willing to stick my neck out and say Kapoor & Sons will be seen by many more people, and more number of times than Ki & Ka. However, if Ki & Ka gave some money it made off the product placements back to the paying customers, this could have easily been the opposite. It would have also meant greater viewership for the product placements in the movie, a perfect win-win situation. The viewer must be compensated for the discomfort of watching advertisements by either increasing the production value of the movie, or by simply giving some benefits to the customer. Marketing teams are smart enough to find rewards to the viewers which would result in greater engagement with the brands and products advertised in the movies.

If this idea seems like ‘pie-in-the-sky’ to you, just take a look at the new marketing plan for Pepsi. Instead of having big ‘stars’ endorse their brand and bombarding the TV with advertisements, they chose to instead pass off the benefit to the customer by giving them PayTM credits and other prizes. TVFplay also used a similar strategy by offering cashback and Uber vouchers for their paying subscribers.

As paying customers, we need to demand more from the industry than springing lazy product placements on the hapless customer who goes to a cinema to watch a movie and ends up watching advertisements instead! If nothing, at the very least, give us some freebies of the things you are advertising!

Before you type away in the comments section, No, I did not receive any money from any brand mentioned in this post, and hence will not be able to pass on the benefits to you.