The ‘shoutout’ game: Do celebrity endorsements have a positive impact on a film’s success?

the shoutout trend

Every now and then, our social media timelines get filled with certain trends. Sometimes you’d see celebrities posting their bare-faced selfies with the hashtag #WokeUpLikeThis; other times you’d see them posting a decade old picture juxtaposed with a recent picture and calling it the #TenYearChallenge. Amusingly, every time, the celebs manage to get attention.

So, in a world of social media where the trends decide what’s hot and what’s not, it is only obvious that the movie makers would use the same trends to sell their movie. With Laal Kabootar and Sherdil fast approaching their release date, the most recent trend that is all over our Instagram timelines is “The Shoutout” trend.

A show of goodwill?

Pakistani film industry isn’t very large to begin with. On top of it, the industry people tend to get involved in small skirmishes around who-gets-to-release-their-movie-on-the lucrative-date debate every now and then. So, in an industry that’s inundated with situations like this, this ‘shoutout’ trend does paint a positive picture.

Just a day ago, the leads of Laal Kabootar, Ahmed Ali Akbar and Mansha Pasha, whipped out their phones and gave a quick shoutout to the team of Sherdil and wished them a good run at the screens.

Soon after, Mikaal Zulfikar, the lead of Sherdil, took a minute out of his busy schedule to shoot a nice, long shoutout for the team of Laal Kabootar, filled with best wishes. Humayun Saeed, who has yet to speak about his own upcoming release Project Ghazi, has also given shoutouts to both the films. And we, as lovers of Lollywood, are all aww-ing at this gesture of support.

Amidst all of this, it is also important to notice that apart from being a goodwill gesture, the shoutouts have also considerably helped film promotions, in the past. Before Ho Mann Jahan‘s release, the ‘Shakar Waandan’ trend really caught on, on social media, with people from the industry dancing on the song. The film, as we witnessed, was successful to a considerable extent. The song itself is a must on every desi shadi, now.

Or a planned business strategy?

However, a quick look at the profiles of the stars of the two movies and it became clear that this shoutout game has been going for a while now.

Armeena Khan, the “lead” actress of Sherdil, has gotten more shoutouts for herself from her industry-mates than she has featured in the film’s trailer and promotions. The official Instagram page for ARY Films – the distributors of Sherdil – has shoutout videos dedicated to Sherdil from the teams behind ARY’s two other, upcoming films – Baaji and Parey Hut Love.

When the official handles of the film feature more faces not related to the film than the film’s own bits, one tends to get a little worried about the good of the goodwill. Is the audience supposed to just take the word of all the people giving shoutouts – the ones not even related to the movie – and go watch the film?

Having said that, since cross channel promotions don’t happen in Pakistan (for instance, ARY films will not be promoted on HUM and vice versa), these shoutouts help to break that pattern to a certain extent. It sends a message of goodwill when the names/faces usually associated with one channel give shoutouts to names/faces associated with another channel.

The reason to smile, nonetheless

Well, whatever the actual reason behind this trend is, one can’t deny that it has lightened up our timelines with some adorableness. Bilal Ashraf’s shoutout to Armeena started with him singing, “Meenay, Meenay, Meenay” and the friendliness the two Janaan co-stars still share sure warms the heart. Ahmed Ali Butt’s shoutout to the team of Laal Kabootar was both witty and funny in classic Ahmed Ali Butt style.

Similarly, Asad Siddiqui and Zara Noor Abbas took it a notch higher and play acted a military operation scenario to give their shoutout to Mikaal Zulfikar and his team.

Giving shoutouts or participating in challenges curated by a film’s marketing team to create buzz is not a new thing. It does, however, become a matter of concern when a significant chunk of the film’s social media marketing starts to rely on shoutouts. After all, the film’s fate does not get decided by the XYZs of the industry urging people to go watch the film. Why ask your friends in the industry to ask people to go watch their movies? Well, we will get the answer to this mystery once the two films release on the 22nd  of March. And no, this isn’t a shoutout.


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