PeepingMoon Exclusive: Universal Communications CEO Parag Desai talks about scoring a hattrick with Sooryavanshi, Spider-Man and Pushpa


Parag Desai, the CEO of Universal Communications, needs no elaborate introduction as he makes his work speak volumes. From managing biggies including Taapsee Pannu, Sidharth Malhotra and Sonakshi Sinha to providing PR solutions and promotional support to big-budget films like Sooryavanshi, Pushpa to name a few, Mr Desai and his team at Universal Communications are leaving no stone unturned in giving their 100% to a project. 

After a successful 2021, Mr Desai and his team of publicists gear up for a thrilling and adventurous year ahead. In an exclusive conversation with PeepingMoon, Mr Desai opened up about creating buzz for films amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the goals of Universal Communications and what goes behind widening the reach of a film.

Excerpts from the interview:

You’ve created a hattrick of sorts with Sooryavanshi, Spider-Man and Pushpa with the promotions and communications. How did you go about creating the buzz in a pandemic?

We strategically focus on the content and mass star appeal of the exciting talent behind these various films. We selected the right print and digital platforms that travel nationally and not just English audiences, it was important to target regional towns and cities as well. Audiences have become extremely smart and selective for the content they choose and we strategically showcased what would appeal to them most, without going over the top or cliche activities. For Pushpa along with Mr Rahul Nanda, we ensured the content reached the relevant regional audiences through select media activities. 

Are there any personal viewpoints that you cater to when taking on a film on board? 

We ensure our clients and projects match our ethics, morals and our vision for the big picture when it comes to media relations. The stature/popularity is secondary, but our integrity and professional wavelengths need to be symbiotic, which is of utmost importance to us.

A lot of our actors have their own production house, who amongst them have a good sense of marketing and give good ideas? 

Most of the talent and production houses are in sync with the demands of the audience today, and as PR agencies, we also help to provide 360 solutions to every marketing or PR need. An idea cannot be categorised as either good or bad, it needs to be relevant and focus on the correct target audience, and ensure the content reaches them.

What new ventures/films do you have in 2022? 

We have an exciting and varied roster of hugely anticipated projects from 2022 in Bollywood as well as Hollywood, some of them being Brahmastra, Gangubai Kathiawadi, Shabaash Mithu, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, Runway34, Thank God, Bhediya, Cirkus. The big-ticket Hollywood films line-up includes Thor Love and Thunder, Avatar 2, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Morbius, to name a few.

How do you ensure to reach out to small towns folk and get them to theatres?

We do thorough research and understand what appeals to these audiences, what is the most complicated way to reach them via the right media mix of Print Newspapers + Digital+ On ground Events. We develop and work with our regional affiliates to create a different campaign for regional audiences.

What is Hercules task film promotions or star branding & image creation?

Unrealistic demands and lack of a reality check from the client side is some of the biggest obstacles when it comes to a campaign. It is ideal to be fully aware of a film or an actor's strengths and weaknesses so as to create the perfect media strategy.