There is no denying that Media Content and Communication Services (MCCS) bit on quite a tough cookie when it embarked on the journey of informing the viewers that there would be no Star News anymore and the channel would be replaced by ABP News. For some markets, such as Kolkata, this may be good news but for various other markets, where ABP is not present, the challenge would be even tougher.
In a conversation with exchange4media, Neeraj Sanan, Executive Vice President, Marketing and Distribution, MCCS decodes the steps the company took to prepare for a new brand identity from June 1, 2012.
Star News, Star Ananda and Star Majha had become established brands for news viewers. What are some of the first challenges that you foresee as you begin the rebranding exercise for the channel?
As a media channel, we are in a business built on two pillars – channel credibility and revenues through encashing that credibility. Over the last few years, our channels have delivered credible news, which helped build three successful news channel brands in the country. Our advertisers have put faith in our performance by using them as their platforms for brand building. MCCS’ first challenge would be to stand tall to our commitment to the two largest stakeholders – viewers and advertisers. We have to ensure that the team, which has performed well over the last few years, remains the same and so does the performance.
From a viewer’s point of view, the name of the channel makes a difference, especially in the news genre. What are some thoughts you factored in the communication exercise to ensure that the traits Star News was associated with, is taken forward to ABP News as well?
The habit of channel viewership is built over a period of time basis a few key elements. First is the content pitch, which is the neutrality, consistency and credibility with which we give news. Second are anchors and reporters, who are our identity. The third is channel look and here our products have been the benchmark in the industry. Programmes, and the likes of ‘24 Ghantey 24 Reporter’, ‘Saas Bahu aur Saazish’, ‘Kaun Banega Mukhyamantri’ are super brands in themselves with their own equity. The fifth factor for a news channel specially is channel number, which the placement deals determine and finally, the channel name. Of these, the first four elements lead into the channel name, making it what it is. For all ABP news channels, all elements will continue be the same except for the name. In the first few months hence, the viewing experience, which is unchanged, will ensure that our commitment to our advertisers stands where it is – unchanged.
ABP is a very credible media brand in some markets but it does not enjoy that strong a presence in few others, which include a key markets of the Hindi and Marathi belt. How do you propose to build brand ABP as a general news brand in these markets?
ABP is a strong news brand and well known amongst news makers. It stands for stability, honest, neutral and fearless reporting and has a huge legacy. While they may be new in the broadcasting space, they are not new to news. As we go along we would be establishing the ABP brand while migrating the current equity of our existing channels.
What are your markets of focus for this communication exercise around the rebranding?
We have just launched four multi-media communication campaigns. The three B2C campaigns are targeted at respective viewers with focus on the markets which drive ratings i.e. HSM for ABP News, West Bengal for ABP Ananda and Maharashtra for ABP Majha. For the fourth and B2B campaign the focus is our advertisers who have partnered with us over the last few years.
How has the communication theme manifested across media such as TV and print?
The theme of the communication is what we are really doing ‘everything is the same except the name’, which has been adapted across all media including leading television channels, print, OOH, digital platforms and radio. In fact media innovations in IMPACT and exchange4media.com are illustrative examples of our multimedia campaign, which our viewers and advertisers will both experience. Some of the best creative teams in the country have worked on this campaign which will be visible on leading entertainment channels starting today. For this we have taken our own anchors as brand ambassadors, not only as they are well-recognised but to also re-iterate that everything is the same.
Please share what your media mix looks like and the kind of media vehicles you have undertaken for this exercise?
We are present across all medium. The most obvious presence is on our own three channels. This television burst is complimented by leading entertainment channels and music channels in the respective geographies. Outdoor which is already visible includes hoarding, bus branding, train station branding as it works like an effective reminder medium. Radio includes leading radio channels including an interesting ‘TV anchor hunt’ happening in a leading radio station. Print burst (yet to happen) will include all leading national dailies and the digital banner campaign includes all leading news websites as well as regional video viewing for the three languages.
What is the initial investment for this exercise?
This is confidential but I am happy to share that it the biggest and widest media burst by any news brand in the country in the last five years.