‘Experiential marketing is key in world of entertainment'

SANUJEET BHUJABAL | Updated on May 30, 2012

Sanujeet Bhujabal, Director – Marketing, Sony Music

Music has filled most of Sanujeet Bhujabal's working life. Starting off in RPG group's Wilkinson Sword, a company that made blades, over 18 years ago, Bhujabal spent over four years as Product Manager in HMV from late 1993 to 1998, leading the film soundtrack marketing and strategic businesses. During this phase HMV achieved a big growth rate in less than two years in the Strategic Business with a five-million unit selling brand - Anmol Rattan and The Golden Collection. He also played a key role in marketing the soundtracks from some of the most popular movies – Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, 1942: A Love Story and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.

Bhujabal joined Sony Music in 1998, heading the company's entry into Bollywood music with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and helping it grow in both the Bollywood and mainstream music market. At Sony Music, he forged key relationships with production houses to acquire content and talent and developing and formulating effective marketing strategies for the Indian repertoire. He also has hands-on experience with home video and Indi-pop. He was part of the core team responsible for Sony Music's entry into co-production of films (with Vishesh Films' Raaz and Tum Mile). 

A Commerce graduate with Honours in Accountancy and an MBA with specialisation in Marketing & Finance from IIM Bangalore, as Director – Marketing, Bhujabal spearheads all Bollywood and Punjabi repertoire acquisitions and the marketing, promotions and media functions.

My most memorable marketing initiative

There are many, but I would still like to mention the one for Lagaan which should qualify as among the most satisfying. The endless creative discussions with the talent, the zeal to peg something new to make the film and its music as a ‘national anthem' was nothing short of a major breakthrough at that time. We left no stone unturned to make this a memorable success and it was not just the core group but the whole company that rallied behind this project to make it work.

My first product launch

The soundtrack marketing for 1942: A Love Story was my very first project as a management trainee and like any fresher I had that zeal to do something new which had not been tried before. I had devised an ‘All India Find the Singing Superstar' contest using audio cassettes as the entry form, and tied up with a national TV channel, with winners to be judged by celebrities. Then it was televised on the network. One can say it was an early form of a reality talent contest on multimedia platforms.

A rocking digital marketing campaign

This is the campaign that was designed for the first single from the soundtrack of Agneepath in which we skipped traditional media such as TV and premiered the song on an online platform.

We used influencing agents through Twitter and PR to create a rage. The song Chikni Chameli went on to become a smash hit and we have not looked back at using the Internet.

A setback that I have learnt from

There have been no major setbacks but I feel every setback creates opportunities for experiential learning which can be applied for future course corrections.

My marketing idol

Without any doubt it has to be Steve Jobs. He found needs within a consumer where none existed, and how!

Where I get my insights from

Reading (largely biographies), dealing with new situations and meeting new people leads to insights from where you can apply them in day to day situations. Real life can be used for fresh insights and sometime the most mundane of situations can throw up great ideas or thoughts to be applied in work life.

As someone said, the very best of ideas come from a simple thought.

How B-school has shaped my career

B-Schools give one a holistic experience and multiple perspectives from which to look at various opportunities and issues. It also shows that any given problem or opportunity does not have one right or wrong answer.

The freedom to ideate and create multiple solutions is one of the main things a professional course from a B-School helps inculcate. A well-rounded perspective helps in a business environment where there are many variables to making a decision.

How entertainment & COMMODITIES MARKETING differs

Experiential marketing is the key factor to marketing anything in the world of entertainment. The usage of digital and social platforms act as great tools to engage with potential consumers.

In music, a potential consumer consumes content when hearing or seeing a song and then decides to buy the experience. This very facet is very different from buying a commodity. A song is experienced and sampled by a potential consumer and then a purchase decision is made. So, the adage ‘Familiarity breeds contempt' does not apply to marketing in the music industry.

Where marketing is headed

From a full-scale marketing activity covering the target group, I feel marketing of products will now be broken down into niche groups of the same core group. Prosumers will be used effectively to act as early influencers to break new content/style of music.

Social marketing and having a fan base will entail interacting with the consumer/fan base on a 1-to-1 basis. These could be the army of people who will commandeer your product's word-of-mouth publicity and ensure ground buzz. This is a far more credible way to be in touch with your core consumers. Owning a fan will translate into owning a potential consumer and into brand loyalty.

Published on May 30, 2012

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