Noor Fathima Warsia
The media plays a pivotal role when it comes to the building of brands of other products and sectors, but when it comes its own branding, the story is different and the going is equally tough, if not more. Professionals from various segments of the media and entertainment industry got together to look at the reasons why media brands need to be built today and the ways in which they can be built on the last day of the three-day Ficci-Frames 2007. In his inimitable style Shekhar Kapur presented an opposing view. Whether it was this trigger or just the same views presented differently, this turned out to be one topic that saw too many contradicting views.
Television majors like Star Network’s Paritosh Joshi and Turner Network Monica Tata reiterated the much-spoken point of engaging the consumer. Joshi took a step back and pointed out that with the new forms of distribution coming in to existence in the digital age, something as important as carriage fees would take a backseat and the availability of multiple choices would need the brand equity for media players.
Joshi feels that media, like fast-moving consumer goods, is headed for more umbrellas in the same space-- the network as a brand, the channel as a brand, the show as a brand and a character from the show as a brand. He also feels that the media today is segmented and not fragmented and that fragmentation really is a poor understanding of the media space. He also predicted that the Hindi and regional general entertainment spaces will get segmented further in the next year or two and channels coming for other target groups like the older target group and so on.
Tata largely spoke on the need of right relationships with both the audiences and in partnerships. She said if the brand has to be seen in a clutter it has to have distinct identity.
Both the leaders also spoke on the blurring of lines in this new age and admitted that the time has come wherein the content has to be co-created with the audience. Giving the print perspective on this, Times group’s Bhaskar Das agreed with these experts and empahsied on the importance of relevance.
Das underlined the need for the media, as a brand as something that consistently delivers trust. With changes like media time becoming real time, and my time is prime time, it is a new breed of audiences that brands are dealing with today and in that, content is not the king, but the intent is, as that is where the definition of content and other strategies will come from, argued Das.
Taking the audience through the brand linkage model, he spoke on how factors like treatment, curiosity, fantasy escapism, the role of media as a friend, real-time passion, creation of communities and many such points, which help create a media brand.
A case of contradictions
A parallel session on the same topic was about the case of contradictions, which was kicked off by Future Brand’s Santosh Desai. Expressing his concern on the whole notion of brand-building, he said it really is like taking ideas and converting it into generic theories. For him, media is the purest form of branding because as seen in the media brands, where players take their understanding of their sector of operations and personalise it, and that other brand today too are following suite. “Everyone has started to give a point of view and a take on life and giving out a new template to brand-managers is on these lines,” Desai said.
Another point that he didn’t agree with was that media can never be treated neutrally. He said it is all too good on paper but it really doesn’t work in the practical sense. “We do see that media brands tend to focus on certain media only and that just the vindication of that,” said Desai.
The series of contradictions continued when Shekhar Kapur took the dais. Following his candid confession that he never went after branding–“When I made Mr India, people said you’ve understood kids’ content and I never made another such movie and likewise for Bandit Queen,” Kapur recalled.
“Is branding a good thing-- from what I’ve heard so far, may be it is. But what do I do when Amitabh Bachchan says eat Chyawanprash and my doctor says it would give me cholesterol or when Shah Rukh Khan says buy Santro even as drives only BMWs? I’ve always run away from branding – when people tend to tag me with something, I stop doing that. I don’t know a thing about branding,” Kapur was candid.
The noted film director’s view is that some of the greatest brands today really didn’t go with a gameplan on how to build the brand. He elaborated, “Yashraj Films is probably the biggest brand in the space today in India and I don’t think Yash Chopra would’ve much to offer on formulae for branding. He just wanted to make movies and he had a passion for that.”
According to him, newspaper reading itself is more of a brand than Times of India because the habit is to read a paper and not just a particular paper. “Which is why we see so many players coming in today,” Kapur was categorically.
God is a brand and keywords are a brand because of the time that they have been used and because of the connect that people have with them. Dissecting this further, Kapur observed that “there has to be passion on the core of everything you do and if you’ve done it well enough, chances are that it would become a brand rather than some parameters and that would be a long lasting brand. Otherwise in the age that we are in today, it really just takes some blogs and SMSes to ruin a lot of brand building. If so what is the solution?” he wondered.
What the sense is when a player, in the course of its brand building, created a need and then even before the brand could really fill this need, someone else already did the job with the change in technologies?, he wondered and posed the question to the rest of his panel members. Desai at least ventured an answer, “the mental model of a brand as a unit of monetisation has to change.”