Looking a Gift Horse in the MouthIn ‘America’s Sweetheart’, Billy Crystal’s character, super-publicist Lee dishes out pearls of wisdom on promotional strategies to his underling. One of them is this:

“Survival Rule no. 3, kid, you’re not here to love anybody, you’re here to promote a movie, that’s it – period. Say you’re here and you got word that your mother died, got hit by a bus or something. You go downstairs, shed a tear and say…It’s a shame, she would’ve loved this movie.”

And that’s how the cookie crumbles. Everything is about promotion and everybody wins in the game. The magazine editor wins with baskets of freebies, the movie producer wins with free merchandise that makes his characters look hip and the company wins with rising sales figures. It all began rather innocuously some time ago but burst in everybody’s face with Dil Chahta Hai where an MRF tyre was shot at close range from a stylish angle. Quite an ad.

Today it is all about selling the product, and boy does bollywood sell! Think ‘Bunty aur Babli’ when Rani Mukherjee’s patiala salwaars made sales shoot up. So clothing brands immediately latched on to what they rightly saw as a great promotional strategy. If Farah Khan wanted to sell Om Shanti Om, Shopper’s Stop wanted to sell its clothes; the two teamed up and the clothing brand stocked the movie’s clothing line, which ignited the 70s craze in Indian fashion. Kareena has donned a new look altogether for Globus and is all set to launch her own line of clothing through the company.

Today brands are in on the PR formula. Widespread advertisement through films (for a price of course) and goodwill promotion through corporate events is the best deal a brand can strike up, and the best way a corporation can reach out for mass appeal. It’s not for nothing that ABN Amro teamed up with fashion’s enfant terrible to design credit cards! Notepads do the best business for one is always needed at PR events to give to journalists. On a more strategic note, companies would do well to tie up with brands for their promotional schemes. Say, the editor of a new fashion magazine can easily rope in any company she wants for her launch party where several celebrities and socialites will be given gift baskets. Once the celebrity falls in love with the product she will definitely visit the store for more.

This is any company’s best bargaining tool. Whether it is a watch or a tyre or a shoe or a dupatta, the gifting strategy has more lanes and bylanes than the New York gridline and at the end of it all, everyone’s a winner.

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