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Baahubali: The Beginning – Digital Marketing Strategies

CASE STUDY, BRAND MANAGEMENT
ET Cases, 16 Pages
AUTHOR(S) : A. J. Swapna and Dr. Nagendra V. Chowdary

Case Preview

Baahubali: The Beginning – Digital Marketing Strategies

 

Baahubali, the name reverberated and crossed the mind of every Indian moviegoer in 2015. A South Indian movie, turned into an international sensation, as it crossed the barriers of language. Originally, a bilingual in Telugu and Tamil the movie was later dubbed in Malayalam, Hindi and other foreign languages. The film became a  talking point not just because of big budgets, big star cast, extraordinary storyline, colossal sets, etc., it was also about the technology used in terms of visuals and  extensive marketing of the movie. A 7th century story narrated through a movie in the 21st century for the 21st century audiences with the 21st century visuals and graphic effects. According to movie reviewers and critics, the success of the film was widely attributed to aggressive promotional strategies adopted by its Director S.S.  Rajamouli in conjunction with the production company Arka Media Works, who played a vital role in the promotion of the film. The promotional strategies included digital marketing, buzz marketing and merchandising. While few strategies were used just at the time when movie was announced, quite a few marketing strategies were deployed during the film production, just before the audio release and most importantly post-release. How did the movie turn from a ‘yet another regional movie’ into a  magnum opus? What made the movie an epic blockbuster? How was the production company successful in its promotional campaigns and how did it manage to get huge publicity for the film that contributed to its commercial success?........................

Making of an Epic

In February 2011, Rajamouli announced that his next film would cast the famous Telugu film actor Prabhas. However, it was only in January 2013, that he announced the working title Baahubali. It was also decided that the film would be split into two parts, Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali: The Conclusion. “Given the budget of the film, it’s impossible to recover the cost involved if we release in one language. Right from the start, the plan was to make it as a Tamil-Telugu bilingual. Hence, we cast actors who are popular in both the industries”, said Rajamouli.

The lead actors Prabhas, Anushka Shetty, Rana Daggubati, Sathyaraj, Ramya Krishnan, Nasser, Prabhakar and Tamannaah Bhatia worked for two complete years for the magnum opus. Prabhas, Rana, Anushka, Tamannaah and Sathyaraj had to learn the basics of rock-climbing, sword fighting, kick-boxing, kung-fu and horse riding..............

Baahubali’s Success: Actors’ Endorsements

While Baahubali’s success raked in blockbuster revenues for the producers, distributors and theaters/screens, its actors were inundated with film and brand endorsements offers. While the lead actors did not accept any major/lead roles in other films as they were waiting for Part II of Baahubali, they took to national endorsement (Exhibit IV).............

Digital Marketing Strategies

Baahubali’s digital presence came into light as early as January 2013, almost two and a half years prior to its release. Although it is not unheard of for a film to use social media as a tool to promote itself, what made Baahubali stand out from the rest of the Indian movies were not the jaw-dropping visual effects but the amount of time invested in marketing during the pre-and post-production phases............

Baahubali used the hashtag #LiveTheEpic, generating immediate interest merely by use of the word ‘epic’ which helped to strike online conversations faster. The film’s unit also launched a WhatsApp messenger Service taking movie promotion to an altogether new level...................

The Flipside?

Baahubali: The Beginning, was also in news for all the wrong reasons. Sodhe Matha sent legal notices to the film’s producers in early January 2014 about the film’s title Baahubali, which is the name of a revered monk in Jainism. They were afraid that the film would portray his story in a violent manner. “The film has nothing to do with Gomateswara or the Jain religion. The story is completely fictional written by Vijayendra Prasad and will remain so..............

Assignment Questions

I. What need was Baahubali movie catering to? What is your analysis of Baahubali’s marketing mix decisions?
II. Using Theodore Levitt’s Total Product Concept (TPC), analyze Baahubali’s Product (the movie) offering.
III. Baahubali movie’s marketing communications spanned quite a few marketing formats (including Print, TV, Digital and OOH). What is your analysis of this approach for Baahubali movie’s marketing?
IV............

Exhibits

Exhibit I: Baahubali Actors Makeover for the Film

Exhibit II: Costume and Architecture Sketches for Baahubali

Exhibit III: Visually Enhanced Shots and Graphics of Baahubali

Exhibit IV: Baahubali Stars Endorsements Post-Film Success

Exhibit V: Audition Campaign of Baahubali Posted on Facebook and the Tweet by Rajamouli

Exhibit VI: Snapshots of “If Only You Were A Baahubali” App

Exhibit VII: Snapshots of the Fun Quiz of Baahubali on Storygag Website

Exhibit VIII: Baahubali at Comic Con Hyderabad and Cosplay Event

Exhibit IX (a): Baahubali Whatsapp Messenger Entry Form

Exhibit IX (b): Guinness World Record for Baahubali Poster

Exhibit X: Collection from Baahubali Online Store

Exhibit XI: First Poster Controversy of Baahubali Film

Teaching Note Preview

Baahubali: The Beginning – Digital Marketing Strategies

 

Synopsis

Baahubali: The Beginning (Baahubali), a South Indian movie turned into an international sensation and crossed the barriers of language. The film became the  talking point not just because of big budgets, big star cast, extraordinary storyline, colossal sets, etc. It was also about the technology used in terms of visuals and extensive marketing of the movie. It was a bilingual in Telugu and Tamil and was later dubbed in Malayalam, Hindi and other foreign languages. The promotional strategies included digital marketing, buzz marketing and merchandising. While few strategies were used just at the time when movie was announced, quite a few marketing strategies were deployed during the film production, just before the audio release and most importantly post-release.

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding (PCU)/Before the Classroom Discussion

This Case study’s discussion would be more effective if the participants understand the concept of Choosing Integrated Marketing Communications to build brand equity. A preliminary understanding of this concept can be had from the following suggested chapter and articles:

  • • Kevin Lane Keller, et al., “Integrated Marketing Communications to Build Brand Equity”, Strategic Brand Management, 3rd Edition, Pearson Education Inc., 2011
  • • Theodore Levitt, “Marketing Success Through Differentiation-of Anything”, Harvard Business Review, January–February 1980

 

Mandatory Viewing

The students/participants were asked to view the film, Baahubali: The Beginning to help build a better connect with the case’s purported learning.

Case Positioning and Case Setting

This case study can be used for either of the following:

  • • MBA Program – Brand Management course – Integrated Marketing Communications to build Brand Equity chapter – To understand how Baahubali movie’s team deployed a slew of marketing communication strategies to garner highly-acclaimed commercial success
  • • MBA Program – Integrated Marketing Communication course – To understand the communication process and the components of promotion
  • • MBA Program – Marketing Management course – To highlight the importance of designing a marketing communication program based on need & marketing mix analysis

 

Assignment Questions

  • I. What need was Baahubali movie catering to? What is your analysis of Baahubali’s marketing mix decisions?
  • II. Using Theodore Levitt’s Total Product Concept (TPC), analyze Baahubali’s Product (the movie) offering.
  • III. Baahubali movie’s marketing communications spanned quite a few marketing formats (including Print, TV, Digital and OOH). What is your analysis of this approach for Baahubali the film’s marketing?
  • IV. .................

 

Case Analysis and Classroom Discussion

Preamble to the Case Analysis

This case study enables an interesting discussion on Baahubali’s digital marketing strategies including an evaluation of Theodore Levitt’s Total Product  Concept (TPC) and thereby analyzing Baahubali’s Product (the movie) offering. Accordingly, this case study was orchestrated in the classroom as shown in Exhibit (TN)-I.................

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Abstract

This case study is meant to highlight how innovative marketing campaigns can enhance a product’s (in this case Baahubali: The Beginning (Baahubali), the movie)  market success. With carefully crafted and meticulously executed marketing strategies, with the same precision and finesse as that of the movie itself, Baahubali’s market fortunes soared. With INR600 crore gross earnings worldwide, Baahubali not only became a benchmark for technical and aesthetic prowess, but also became a well-studied case for its marketing blitzkrieg. With 4 years of filming, thousands of artists, unprecedented sets and costumes, Baahubali’s success opened new vistas in digital marketing for Indian movies. While the lead actors became national icons with big-brand endorsements, the film’s crew including its director became sought after film technicians nationally and globally. An interesting feature of Baahubali’s marketing campaign has been the value-chain approach in marketing the movie. As many industry veterans point out, nearly 40% of Baahubali’s commercial success can be attributed to its aggressive and innovative marketing campaigns. What are the critical elements of Baahubali’s marketing, especially w.r.t. digital marketing campaign? What’s the unique approach that Baahubali has adopted to sustain and  accentuate its success? How could omni-channel marketing approach aid the movie’s success? How could Baahubali’s team orchestrate well-crafted brand-building strategies?



Pedagogical Objectives

  • To understand how Baahubali’s team deployed a slew of digital marketing strategies to enhance the product’s (the movie) reach, its commercial success and examine the role of omni-channel communication strategies
  • To analyze the nature of innovative approach adopted by Baahubali’s team in marketing the product (the movie) and analyze Baahubali’s product offering with the help of Theodore Levitt’s Total Product Concept (TPC)
  • To discuss and debate on the importance of coordinated marketing (communication) efforts in reaching out to a larger audience

Case Positioning and Setting
This case study can be used for either of the following:

  • MBA Program – Brand Management course – Integrated Marketing Communications to build Brand Equity– To understand how Baahubali movie’s team deployed a slew of marketing communication strategies to garner highly-acclaimed commercial success
  • MBA Program – Integrated Marketing Communication course – To understand the communication process and the components of promotion
  • MBA Program – Marketing Management course – To highlight the importance of designing a marketing communication program based on the need and marketing mix analysis



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- Abstract
- Case Study
- Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)


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