3D advertising: Pixion, Prime Focus and others working to cash in on the tech's popularity
Hollywood has mastered it. Bollywood swears by it. Now it's the turn of advertisers to take to 3D and add a new dimension to marketing.
So, if you watch Don 2 in 3D later this month, there are chances that besides the don, Zoozoos and Axe girls too may appear within touching distance. That's because several marketers are working on 3D commercials to cash in on the technology's increasing popularity.
"Today, you name any brand that is advertising on TV and it's asking for an additional 3D version for their commercial," says Bhaarath Sundar, visual effects CEO and advertising partner at Prime Focus India.
An advertising official says Hindustan Unilever, GlaxoSmithkline, Vodafone and Tata Motors are all working on 3D commercials to be released shortly, but none of the companies confirmed this.
Post-production companies such as Pixion, Maya Digital and Prime Focus said they are busy producing 3D commercials for Indian companies for release early next year, but refused to name any of their clients.
Rajesh Mishra, CEO (Indian operations) of digital film distribution company UFO Moviez, said 3D advertising will become big in the country within 6-8 months. "Producing 3D content is expensive but brands can afford it because commercials are shorter in duration, lasting anywhere between 10 seconds to one minute," he said.
The main driver for this rush for a third dimension is the popularity of 3D films. While at least one 3D film from Hollywood is hitting the screen every month, Indian filmmakers too are joining the rush with about 10 local language 3D films in various stages of production or post-production.
Merzin Tavaria, co-founder and chief creative director at Prime Focus, says, "As numbers of 3D films grow, so shall 3D advertising." His firm has refurbished its facility at Khar in Mumbai to handle the growing 3D needs of the advertising sector.
Of all the commercials shown during the screening of Ra.One the one that stood out the most was the 3D commercial for Google Chrome.
Harish Shriyan, managing partner of OMD India, a media buying arm of Omnicom Group, says greater recall value and greater connect are among the advantages of 3D advertising.
James Stewart, a 3D filmmaking pioneer and founder of Canada-based Geneva Film Co, recently quoted multiple studies by ESPN, Xpand and Texas Instrument to say 3D ads delivered 92% recall among viewers and viewer retention was on an average 15% higher than normal ads.
But there is one overwhelming disadvantage: Cost. Post-production prices, or the cost of converting 2-D film into 3D, to create a regular 30-second commercial could be anywhere between 6-12 lakh. This would mean 50%-80% additional cost on a normal advertisement.
That kind of extra expense only for exposure to cinema halls showing 3D films could make several marketers turn their backs on the idea at a precarious time when the economy is slowing.
"I'm certain that a lot of people start with the idea of exploring 3D advertising for brands, but the idea is usually abandoned in the first few meetings with clients and production houses. The cost is substantially more than 2D," says Sajan Raj Kurup, founder and creative chairman of Creativeland Asia, which recently created a 3D campaign for Audi A8 luxury sedan. "The question to be asked is does the idea really warrant the extra dimension, and is the extra cost justified," he says.
Durables brands Whirlpool and Panasonic aired 3D commercials during the live 3D screening of the Indian Premier League twenty20 cricket tournament in April. "We were the first company to make a 3D ad in India," says Shantanu Dasgupta, VP, corporate affairs at Whirlpool India. He, however, says the company is not planning more 3D commercials because it's focusing on TV as a mass medium. "You really cannot have a 3D ad on TV, at least today."
Experts expect most marketers to stay lukewarm about 3D commercials until 3D television catches up. But it may take years in a country where HDTV, a natural precursor of 3D television, is in a fledgling stage with only a few high-definition channels in the country.
"There is still a lot of time for TV getting captured by 3D advertising," says Josy Paul, chairman and national creative director of advertising agency BBDO India. He says 3D advertising starts from outdoor before graduating to in-camera.