It began on the night of March 20, 2008.
At the premiere of Race, Aamir Khan made his first public appearance in a haircut that has till now spawned not just hundreds of imitations amongst his fans, but also generated hype of paramount proportions for one of 2008’s biggest releases.
Of course, the film’s distribution strategy proved impeccable. Close to 1,200 prints, the largest number for any Bollywood movie, were distributed in India, giving it a wider reach. But, to be sure, it was hype — and lots of it — driven by a single channel publicity vehicle, Aamir Khan, that led to Ghajini’s blockbuster opening.
In quantifiable terms, the following figures from Esha News Monitoring Services are telling.
From March 20 till the film’s release, Aamir’s haircut for the movie attracted about 18 hours of television coverage. That translates into publicity worth Rs 129.6 lakh (on the basis of media buying rates).
TV news coverage about Ghajini alone totalled about 31 hours, which is about Rs 423 lakh worth of publicity. Out of this, the actor’s 8-pack abs had the lion’s share, totalling 23 hours, translating into publicity worth Rs 417 lakh.
The print media wasn’t far behind. According to Eikona PR Measurement, a division of TAM Media Research, the week prior to the film’s release saw print media devote about 33% of its total Ghajini-related coverage to Aamir’s physique, thus managing to build major hype in every corner of the country.
The above figures give a reasonable estimate of how every time Aamir made a public appearance in the Ghajini look, it translated into publicity and hype for the film.
But not all the hype that led to the film’s bumper opening was due to his haircut, tattooed body or eight packs, since these appearances coupled with the film’s planned marketing activities such as press interviews, were intended promotions.
What was unintended — and this is why Ghajini is a case study — was the advertising
blitzkrieg that Aamir Khan got himself involved in, post his haircut.
The year gone by saw Aamir’s most generous presence in television commercials ever, for the brands he endorses — Tata Sky, Samsung Mobile and Titan watches.
The first two are some of the largest spenders in advertising on television, print and outdoor, and their largesse to spend helped the movie’s cause.
Prathap Suthan, national creative director of Cheil Worldwide, South-West Asia the ad agency for Samsung Mobile, says Aamir’s new look worked both ways and a certain “osmosis” happened.
“When we signed Aamir, Samsung Mobile was going in for a repositioning. Plus his character’s look was central to the film, and we saw it as a big opportunity. So, while it worked both ways, it certainly helped build hype and curiosity around Ghajini.”
Aamir also went out of his way to promote his nephew Imran Khan’s debut Jaane Tu Yaa Jaane Na by making appearances on TV game shows, promotional events, sporting the Ghajini look.