Baahubali to alter the Indian licensing industry

While there is so much anticipation about the sequel of Baahubali and the nation is curious about 'Why did Kattappa kill Baahubali', Arka Mediaworks - the production house behind this epic histo...
Baahubali to alter the Indian licensing industry

While there is so much anticipation about the sequel of Baahubali and the nation is curious about ‘Why did Kattappa kill Baahubali’, Arka Mediaworks – the production house behind this epic historical fiction has devised an enormous licensing program with Black White Orange. The licensing program includes Virtual Reality, comics, mini-series, merchandise etc. along with other conventional categories. In a discussion with License India, Bhavik Vora - the Founder and CEO at Black White Orange shared an insight about the licensing strategies for the movie and how the Baahubali franchise can create a dent in the Indian licensing industry.

So far Bollywood licensing has been restricted to marketing and promotions. In such a scenario, how do you aim to make Baahubali the tentpole of Indian licensing industry? 

Most producers do look at merchandise as a marketing tool. But given the amount of revenue Baahubali has earned at the box office, Arka Mediaworks do not need the support of merchandise to market the brand because the film has a huge marketing budget of their own. We presented an entire session where we spoke about different branches of Baahubali like animation, consumer products & more . Even the producers are talking to a major GEC who will air the animation. There is a huge virtual reality platform that was showcased at the recent Mumbai Film Festival. The brand is spending close to 5 Million on content & marketing for the epicThere’s also going to be graphic novels and a 10 part mini-series along with Baahubali merchandise. No other movie in India has not done something at a scale that Baahubali is planning. S.S. Rajamouli is a National Award winning director and everything has been given direction by him right from the merchandise design to the themes.

How have you zeroed upon the style guide and looks for licensing?

We have hardly used the faces of the characters but have taken the essence of the movie as inspiration for the style guide. This concept has worked well on the global platform, for example – the GOT series, Fast and Furious. In India people expect that putting character’s faces on a product would be adequate to make it sell, but that is more of a promotional product than of a licensed product carrying the DNA of the property. We realized that since the quality of the movie and animation is superlative , then we will have to amp up the designing to that level as well. It took us around two months to design everything and create a consumer products style guide.

What all categories are you eyeing at initially for association?

We are doing a whole lot of categories from apparel for youth, figurines, weapons, armour, novelty products, to fan merchandise. We are also doing a debit card with ICICI. We are also in talks for a lot of collaborations for the Virtual Reality program, FMCG etc. We are in talks with a lot of technology partners and promotional licensing deals with leading FMCG players. We are tying up with some of the best partners. For apparel, we have joined hands with Status Quo that has over 1200 counters across India including all the large format stores. For each category, we are looking at least 1,000 to 1,200 counters. We are also trying to take this brand to a lot of other countries and are in discussions with players in the Middle East, South East Asia and Malaysia. If I have to put it in perspective, the ratio of promotional v/s product licensing is 40:60.

What are the price-points like to be for Baahubali merchandise?

It would be very similar to how the business works for any of the character licenses. We aren’t looking for any premium pricing. For instance if a Marvel or Warner Brother T-shirt is available for 600 bucks, our offering would be priced around that.

Baahubali licensing program is indeed a new chapter in Indian industry. How is it likely to impact the Indian licensing market?

Bollywood is consumed so much in India, but merchandise has not been able to make a mark in that huge a manner. With Baahubali, we hope to make enough dent in the market. I think, brand owners should look at brand licensing as a serious business because it not just adds to their revenue but also adds up to the legacy as a movie. Godfather and Harry Potter have lived among the fans through merchandise even when the movies are not there or have long gone. We want brands and franchises to be out of the screen and into the homes of people and we hope to achieve that through Baahubali – The Conclusion. And this movie has got everything going for it to become a big brand – names, fandom, scale, content… all of which are required for success for any property.