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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Cause Marketing of Films Through Social Media

India is truly a land of diverse cultures. And a perfect mirroring of this fact would be the number of feature films released in India every year. For the Past 3 years, the Indian film industry has released more than 1000 films on an average. This surpasses the average number of Hollywood films released per year which hover around 700 films per year. Even though 1000 films release in India, not all the movies have a successful run and recover their investments. Sometimes it might be because of lack of story elements and other cinematic technicalities. But most of the films fail due to lack of proper Marketing Strategy.

A recent empirical survey conducted by an IIM-A student suggests that for the low budget Bollywood films to succeed, the producers must shell out at least 80% of the film’s budget for the purpose of Marketing. While High budget films can enjoy a lesser spend on marketing, movies made with tight budgets have to spend more lest they will perish. Thus marketing strategy is important for a film – awareness for the film has to be created in all possible means. And it is in this mass reach medium, social media finds its place.

 Cause Marketing of Films Through Social Media

Off late, the movie makers have adopted various moves to promote their movies through Social Media – Releasing theatrical trailers, Releasing single tracks from the movie and airing special bloopers/behind the scenes of the movie. However, there is still scope in social media to increase the brand awareness of the film. The other thing that is very popular and promoted by the netizens are causes. “Causes” in general refer to social causes that prevail in our society. Various Non-Profit organizations strive hard for these Social Causes to be heard and garner public support for the same. While both these campaigns run parallel on the social media, is there any chance of converging them and make it a single cause?

Cause Marketing is a term given to the linking of a for-profit firm to a non-profit cause for the purpose of furthering the for-profit’s business strategy. To put it in a nutshell, a film producer should link his film promotion to an ongoing social cause thereby helping in garnering support for the cause while making sure that his film is also getting promoted. This will not only benefit the producer but also help the various non-profit organizations striving towards the same social cause.\

Having said that, the next logical question would be how to do that? While we see a spate of recent Bollywood movies quoting based on a real life incident, reality of the state etc, the producers of the film never brought the real cause in their promotion. A recent example would be the Bollywood film “Chakravuyh (2012)”. The film has been inspired by the 2010 tragedy that happened in Chhattisgarh where 73 CRPF jawans were killed by naxalites. Although the producers did a totally unrelated online campaign, they never touched the cause of the jawans who died in that incident. By supporting the aforementioned cause, the film would have created more value for itself, benefited at large and could have also contributed for the cause of jawans. And this could have been promoted on the social media as audio visuals and as games too.

The common measures of any marketing campaign are through willingness to buy, likelihood of purchase (viewership) and overall sales. Having given an illustration of the impact that would have been created, now I would like to propose a framework for adopting this strategy2. (Fig 1.)

Figure 1: Framework for Cause Marketing

1. Choosing the right Fit

It is very important that the promoter choose the best possible cause which will fit within the realm of movie’s discussions. A romantic movie supporting the cause of cancer would be a mockery of this framework. However, a movie whose plot involves a social cause may choose the same cause and promote it. While it can be argued that the movie itself acts as a tool for creating awareness, it is important that another organization works on to sensitize the cause and bring about a change. While the movie “Peepli Live(2010)” highlighted the cause of farmer suicides, it did not associate itself with an appropriate non-profit organization to help the affected class. Eventually, the issue has been neglected.

2. Valuing The Cause

The film producer must should take into consideration the social cause and value his partnership with the non-profit organization accordingly. Although the primary motive is to promote the film, he must understand that promoting the cause is nothing but promoting the film itself.

3. Sharing the Spoils

The producer should be diplomatic and share his profits with the non-profit organization. This is to be done so that the organization continues to work for the cause.

Following the Framework:

In order to promote the movie along with the above framework, the following strategies can be adopted:


The producer along with the non-profit organization can conduct a short film contest highlighting the cause that is being supported. This would help create more awareness about the cause among the public, who are the potential customers. Alternatively, a poster making competition can be organized in place of the short film contest. These contests help in building up the expectations of the film. Also, by playing the recognition card, the producer/production house gains popularity.

Another way to make the movie popular is to organize for a blogging contest. The blogging contest should be held wherein the participants can be encouraged to come up with innovative solutions for the cause. This will not only help give a direction towards fighting the cause, but also gather more support for the same.


The production house and the non-profit organization can come up with the concept of creating an online comic strip or social media games which reflect the cause across the various strata of population. This will make the people more interactive and guarantee the customer’s engagement in both the movie and the cause.
While we see that most of the movies today focusing on pure entertainment or the various aspects and complexities of life, we do see a couple of movies with a strong social message. But in order to continue the support for the cause and the force to find the solution for the same, an exclusive awareness campaign is the need of the hour. And the film industry can deliver it in the best possible way. Thus, Cause Marketing has more to offer to the society than to the promoter himself. Hence, it should be carried out in all possible scenarios.

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