Once in a while, you hit a roadblock. That awkward moment when you know the exact problem, but you just can’t put your finger on the solution. That’s when you go to the Internet for help!
Described below is a unique research issue we have been facing in our Bollywood work. To be honest, we have (almost) given up. If any of you can offer a solution that works, we’ll be thrilled to bits. We would also like to offer a worthy reward, along with some genuine appreciation to the most effective solution. So, put on your thinking hats and dig into your Bollywood understanding gathered over years. It’s an open challenge!
In our work, we have clearly and firmly established that there are four things that make any film’s campaign effective or ineffective (something we call ‘Appeal’). That is, there are four factors that dictate the Appeal of a film’s campaign. The Appeal, along with Buzz, plays a decisive role in deciding the opening weekend of any film. Hence, measuring and understanding Appeal is of prime importance in our work.
Three of these Appeal drivers are fairly straightforward and easy to measure. Starcast is the first one, which is already being measured by us through Stars India Loves. Music/ Songs is the second one, which is measured through our song popularity charts product Heartbeats. The third one is the Genre, e.g. comedy, action, romance, etc. We conduct an annual Genre Preference Survey to understand the popularity of various genres, and how this varies across markets and target segments. No issues here either.
This challenge is about the fourth driver – what everyone calls the ‘Promo’. Needless to say, the promo has a role to play in driving Appeal. With the same starcast, same music and same genre, you can make great promos or horrible promos. And the Appeal can vary significantly. There may be two slapstick comedies, but promos for one of them can be outright hilarious, while those of the other can end up being singularly unfunny. It becomes very important to measure how much the promo itself has been liked.
But here’s the problem. We have tried asking the promo question to movie-goers in various ways. The issue we face is that when they answer anything about the promo, the starcast and the genre colours their response significantly. Hence, a promo of Housefull 2 will score higher on likeability than a promo of Agent Vinod or Kahaani, simply because the former is a comedy and stars Akshay Kumar.
We have tried many different questions. But nothing manages to give us a response to the promo in isolation, independent of the starcast, genre and music. The question we seek to get the answer to is: Forgetting the starcast, music and genre of this film, how much did you like the promo itself per se?
The consumers don’t understand “forgetting” or “per se”. They judge things in their totality. Hence, the question asked has to be something they can relate to, something that’s “natural”, the way it’s framed.
So, can you come up with the solution? How do we ask them to rate a promo’s creative purely on its content, without the starcast or genre coming in the way of their judgment?
PS: It may not be the wisest thing for a research company to admit it has not been able to find a solution such as this, but the quest for knowledge far outweighs that concern.