Touted to be the first ever tentpole of Indian film industry, Baahubali has marked its presence across categories including live action series, graphic novels and is soon foraying into merchandise along with other extensions. In a candid discussion with License India, Shobu Yarlagadda, the CEO of Arka Mediaworks talks about the licensing program of his most- talked about movie Baahubali and the integration of retail with the movie. What inspired you to devise the licensing program for Baahubali movie? It started off when we released the first part of Baahubali. Prior to the release we were very clear that we are not going to do just anything for the sake of marketing. But as the movie released we noticed the huge fan base across the country. That’s when we thought of engaging with those fans and as a part of that we have turned up with the whole collection of comics, animation series with Amazon. We are also doing a tri-novel series and a mobile game along with other licensing and merchandising activities. What made you think of licensing as an effective retail strategy over any other association? The basic idea was to better engage with the fan base. We believe that the world of Baahubali is immense with a lot of depth and scope. The movie is one part of the whole thing and animated series, live action series or novels, all are equally important for us. While all of them will feed on one another, they will stand as an independent entity. What are your strategies to make Baahubali the first ever tentpole of Indian film industry? We are taking baby steps and it all depends on how well the second part, but following that for the franchise to live on, all the other aspects of graphic novels, e-books need to be equally well-received by the fans and appeal to that segment. A book reader might not go to watch the film but if the books are interesting and stand-alone of their own, they will create their own set of dedicated audience. Similar is the case with the live action that has a massive range, given the huge base of TV audience. As of now, it looks very promising and if all established well, then we have a good chance of creating this whole world of tentpole franchise. What kind of market positioning are you looking at with licensing? I think the range will be niche and will be between mass and premium market while being present across a wide section. I think the strategy will be devised once our licensee takes the call. However, some products will be niche, while other like stationary will be mass products. I think we started from the south and have a bigger fan base there; penetration will be a bit faster. But we are looking strategy at a broader landscape. What is the ideal portfolio of licensee likely to be? That aspect would be handled by our agency Black White Orange, but in general quality and experience with the international movie, brands will be helpful. Getting Gen Y to buy is a task for licensors. How will you address this challenge? I believe if you give the fans something that is worth and as well as the brand is infused into that, it would really help bridge the gap between liking and buying. An ideal product would be a mix of function and design. The style guide is being done by Black White Orange with inputs from our team.
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