Cadbury ad for Kabali

Marketing Lessons from Kabali The Superstar

India has been undergoing a major Kabali assault since a week before the release date of Kabali ( Superstar Rajinikanth’s latest movie). The marketers seem to have done all the right things to get the movie publicized. All the proper boxes have been checked; the ‘i’s dotted and t’s crossed.  If the public engagement is any indication, this movie will have a great opening collection run at the box office.

With all this buzz happening round the film and also the Superstar himself involved, the pre-launch marketing activities were . It’s built a new style of unprecedented branding. As marketers, let us try and figure out what marketing lessons we can learn from Kabali release.


  • Do it differently 
    So, all that the filmmakers did for Kabali’s promotions was announce the film, the release date and a 67-second teaser on social media. The teaser received 25 million views on YouTube, resulting 1st Asian film to have reached those numbers. No other promotions like audio release, press conference, visiting reality shows or going on a tour were done. But then, when you have Rajinikanth by your side, who requires all that. Right?
    Now, this makes it amply clear that you don’t always need to follow the typical marketing tricks and can always position your product & brand and do things differently.


  • Do it with force
    As the country was captured by the Kabali fever, the producers launched a 67 seconder teaser of the film. This came out as 1st Asian quickest seen teasers and within a few minutes of its release, crossed one million views on YouTube. The teaser had over half-dozen million eyeballs within 24 hours.


  • Show elusiveness while endorsing brands

None of the personalities actually use the product they endorse. But here is what happened with Kabali. A number of brands got associated with the film, but nowhere did the protagonist endorse these brands. Instead, the Corporates introduced novel ways of associating themselves with the brand. The eagerness of the brands to associate with such an anticipated film and a flamboyant icon like Thalaiva is understandable. However with these distinctive marketing strategies, the Companies along with their campaigns have clearly leveraged the superstar’s image as well as the frowziness that is way essential right before the release of a film.
Brand endorsements always grabs eyeballs, so next time you partner with a brand, be it for a film, an event or a launch, reflect on how it can add value to your brands and retain the elusiveness.


AirAsia plane for promoting Kabali

AirAsia plane for promoting Kabali

  • Be Innovative
    We were all listing through numerous mediums that the marketing would be massive. And once the producers did it, they created results that are astonishing. For the 1st time in India, an airline dedicated 1 of its airplane for the promotion. The aircraft was wrapped with a gigantic poster of Rajini & Kabali. The plane flew across India covering major Indian cities like Bengaluru, New Delhi, Goa, Pune, Chandigarh, Vizag, and Kochi. This marketing activity generated eyeballs internationally also apart from India. Parrallely special packages were designed to fly Rajini fans from Bengaluru to Chennai, who had bought tickets for the 1st day show. A ‘Kabali’ meal was served in-flight and they also received official movie merchandise and signed mementos. This gave the fans a special Kabali experience. Even the postal department released a “Special carried cover” to mark the aircraft that flew fans. They bore the postmarks of Bengaluru and Chennai Airport post offices and was addressed to the Postmaster General Chennai City Region from Postmaster General of Bengaluru.


  • Go that further mile
Muthoot Finance silver coin for Kabali

Muthoot Finance silver coin for Kabali

Kerala-based Muthoot Fincorp on partnered with Kabali for the exclusive roll-out of silver coins with an embossed image of Rajinikanth to be out there in 5gm (Rs. 350), 10gm (Rs. 700) and 20gm (Rs. 1400) at its branches across the country.

Amazon T-shirts, phone-covers for Kabali

Amazon T-shirts, phone-covers for Kabali

Ecommerce shopping giant Amazon came in with Kabali Store selling merchandise like T-shirts, Mobile Covers, Key-chains, Mugs, etc.

Airtel sim for Kabali

Airtel sim for Kabali

Airtel has exclusive Kabali recharge packs like unlimited 2G data, popular songs & dialogues from the film as greeting tunes and even Kabali branded SIM cards.

Cadbury ad for Kabali

Cadbury ad for Kabali

Cadbury released a special 5-star ad that is a ‘Kabali’ version of the famous Ramesh-Suresh ad.

Emami and PVR Cinemas are associated in numerous ways with Kabali.


Take on social media
Producer Kalaipuli Thanu and Director Pa Ranjith only tweeted the dates & teaser. The electronic media did the rest. A senior executive from a film production and distribution company said, “Kabali was a movie that was entirely driven by online marketing and social media. The marketing cost to gross sales may be the lowest” for this film which could turn out to be Rajini’s biggest grosser, he said. Needless to mention, social media has become a fundamental part of marketing lately, irrespective of what the product is. Kabali has shown some real crazy use of these platforms.
Don’t miss out on the jokes/stuffs doing rounds within the social media. Here are few:

Companies declared holiday for Kabali release

Companies declared holiday for Kabali release

holiday strategy by Superstars

holiday strategy by Superstars

We all know of Rajinikanth’s jokes and these can work for a product as well while making awareness of the pros & cons of a product. It shouldn’t necessarily cover the flaws because it additionally builds the trust on the brand and company as well as strengthens a long relationship with the customer, which is important in today’s marketing.
With social media, everybody and anybody gets lured. Learn to live with it and build it an extra advantage. Remember Alia Bhatt’s video?
New styles of marketing tricks revealed every other day, however Kabali has shown some exceptional marketing craze and the way things are taken in one’s stride when you have a legendary icon by your side. Play well with the USP associated & winning will be an obvious!


  • Startups and ‘Kabali-based’ Marketing strategies
    The ‘Rajini-fever’ has not left the smaller businesses and startups as well. They too are openly associating themselves with Kabali’s release. In the process, they’re promoting themselves considerably. As an instance,, a hyperlocal delivery website has booked 2 Inox screens for Kabali, a practice they are following since 2007, where they book halls for other Rajini-starrers like Kuselan & Enthiranand Lingaa. This time they will extend to their customers and employees as well. As declared in the Economic Times, Founder S. Shriram stated, “Starting tomorrow, those shopping with us will get confirmed film tickets for July 23rd or 24th. All my employees will be invited for the Sunday show with their families.”
    Similarly, the 35-member team at TheSocialPeople plans to throw a Rajinikanth-themed costume party a day before the release of the movie. The CEO of software product company Orangescape, Suresh Sambandan, has declared holiday aiming for 100 tickets for the 6am show on Friday. Faintain Sports, an fan relationship management startup, has dedicated its analytics engine to come up with ‘Kabali sentiment’, an infographic on the mood of the individuals around the film. Additionally, they’re holding contests among the staff where the winner receives 4 tickets to the film, the runner-up gets 2.


  • Startups and ‘Kabali-based’ social media campaign
    GoBumpr, a vehicle-service startup, has been running a social media campaign to ‘Kabali-fy your vehicle’. According to Sundar Nateshan, Co-founder of GoBumpr, “The plan is to spread the message that if decent care is given to your vehicle, it can be like the superstar who maintains his personal appeal/charisma even at the age of 65.”


So, if the Entrepreneur in you desires to launch something exciting, do learn from the several marketing strategies applied by Kabali. Also click the ‘like button’ or leave your comments below if you think that Kabali is going to be a blockbuster hit. And don’t forget to Share!


Lesson 1: You don’t always have to come up with an event all by yourselves. Pick a wave that shows promise and ride it.

Lesson 2: Think outside the box: Just because it hasn’t been done yet, doesn’t mean it cannot be done. Go book an airplane to carry your advertisement.

Lesson 3: Promote social sentiment. Identify the sentiment of the people – and fuel it by your own actions.

Lesson 4: Size doesn’t matter: When the wave comes, everything floats – big ships and small. So be prepared to use the wave and hang on for dear life; while your business gets the benefit.

Lesson 5: Learn to use social media correctly. Not all media may be good for your business. Identify where and how you can reach your market best – and focus your efforts there.

Lesson 6: Be elusive – and beckoning. Increase the curiosity factor by offering tidbits of information. Don’t reveal all your secrets. Leave the really good stuff for paying customers.

Lesson 7: Watch out for copycats/ negative forces.  People will always try to steal your thunder(eg. by leaking your print before release). Be ready to take action against them in a legal fashion.

Lesson 8: Give Hope: After all, Kabali is a lesson in hope. People watch Rajinikant as he gives them hope in an otherwise drab life. Do not push your product features. Identify the benefits your product gives the customer – how his life is going to be better – how he is going to be prettier/thinner/wealthier. Give them hope and they will beat a path to your door.

Lesson 9: Be Larger Than Life; Don’t be just another cog in the wheel. Be out there. Be loud, be cheerful. Spread your views, spread your message. Reach for the stars.

Author Bio:

Jinal Chheda is the Founder & Director of International School of Success – a startup training and advisory firm set up in Mumbai, India. She has many years of experience in different industries helping set-up their business, HR practices & Marketing campaigns. Their one day classes for entrepreneurs are a hit with startup founders who want to get going in a hurry – while minimizing risk of loss and failure.

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