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BBC World gets aggressive on India

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BBC World gets aggressive on India

The past few months have seen BBC World sharpening its focus on India in terms of marketing communication. While the British channel has been active here for years now, backed by sales and programming teams, the focus on marketing is a recent one. The first step was the launch of the marcom division, headed by Vaishali Sharma, towards the end of 2006. The key objective of the division is to make BBC World visible to the relevant viewer and generate the right communication around it.

As to why did BBC World see 2006-07 as the right time to set up a marcom division here, Sharma said, “It has always been on the radar. By 2006, everything just fell in place and BBC World was ready with a marcom team in India.”

BBC World’s earlier India-centric initiatives included the Indian Global Survey. Some of the first steps that were undertaken after setting up of the marcom division was undertaking a survey-- carried out by Synovate Research-- last September-October in the three key cities for BBC World in the country. This was supported by an internal feedback system to derive the audience mindset and thus throw light on what is relevant and what is the relation that BBC World has, and can build, with Indian viewers.

Sharma is quick to point out that as a product BBC World always had it right. “We are in the right place and at the right time. Indians are looking for international perspectives on global developments as it affects them today; and globally people are looking at India and the developments here as there is so much happening here. We’ve examples like the Tata–Corus deal and Mira Nair directing a Johnny Depp movie to show that.

“As a product, BBC World has much to offer-- some people even call it ‘the original one’-- so what really had to be done was to take the product message to Indian viewers,” argues Sharma. She says one of the first tasks at hand is to highlight the relevance of international news per se to the viewers here. Not much communication is seen in India, which led the channel to enjoy a complementary relation with other Indian news channels than a competitive one.

This was seen in the media plan of the campaign too that the channel launched following the groundwork it did. The campaign was aired on Times Now, CNN-IBN, ESPN, Star World, National Geographic Channel and Discovery. This was supported by OOH initiatives in six cities including Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. The campaign was also taken to the digital space. That apart, the channel also innovated on the OOH parameter with live models on show windows of malls. The campaign gathered significant media coverage nationally and internationally but it was the market response that Sharma identifies as an encouraging feedback. The strategy behind the campaign revolved around creating an emotional connect with the viewer and at the same time bringing out the relevance of international news in India, says Sharma.

Speaking on the road ahead, she is clear that the bigger objectives are focusing on the brand saliency of BBC World in India, expanding its audience base and increasing market penetration. The key TG of the channel has been SEC-A, 25+ males. However, Sharma says the recent initiatives have shown that in addition to this, the channel also has SEC B, 20+ and female audiences.

The next step is to highlight the role that the channel plays in the life of viewers. It can also be expected to make noise around specific shows across genre. However, one thing that wouldn’t change is the channel’s global positioning of ‘Putting News First’.


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