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Constant visibility is the key for us: Himmat Butalia, Pix

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Constant visibility is the key for us: Himmat Butalia, Pix

Pix, the English movie channel from Multi-Screen Media Pvt Ltd, recently moved its media mandate to MediaVest and Zoom Advertising. The channel has been in the forefront for its concept innovation and viewer engagement programmes.

Himmat Butalia, Marketing Head, Pix, oversees the planning, execution and overall business strategy of the channel. Prior to his current profile, Butalia was with Leo Burnett as Brand Director and was responsible for the launch of various brands like Reliance Communication, Pix and Mumbai Mirror.

In conversation with exchange4media, Butalia speaks about the topical initiatives and highlights where Pix is headed in the near future.

We have seen Pix taking initiatives for young budding directors and it has also given them a platform to showcase their work in the past. What was the idea behind it then?
‘Gateway’ was a unique show for our category in India and no one had really explored the concept of a show just for Indian directors. We wanted to create a platform for budding talent in India and help get them noticed. We are very proud of the winner of the show and would like to congratulate Bejoy Nambiar, who has created a path breaking film like ‘Shaitan’ recently.

Pix Movie Club is new initiative on the same lines, but this involves a lot of content involvement unlike the other programmes. What is the idea behind this?
Pix Movie Club is a different take on creating a brand extension or even a ‘community’. Pix is not the main focus of this initiative, but Hollywood films are. All Pix Movie Club members are young students in the age group of 15-20 years with one clear common interest – Hollywood films. The idea behind launching this community was to encourage students to watch Hollywood films. We are operating out of Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai currently, but will be expanding to two more cities soon. All our members are entitled to watch brand new Hollywood releases first in India before the film is released for general audiences. The registration process is also very simple and anyone who is a college student can log on to and register in a matter of few minutes.

What are the challenges in marketing an English language channel in India?
A few years back, there were limited avenues to market the category since the demand for English movie channels was much lower, but since 2008 the genre has seen a substantial growth. The number of players in the category has also doubled since then, which shows a higher demand for English movie channels. Currently, we have much more scope to innovate and interact with the viewers be it social networking sites or even outdoor.

How important is digital media for promotional activities for television programmes and how have you leveraged it in your marketing plans?
Digital platforms are the most important tools in any marketer’s arsenal today. All our films are also promoted on the Pix website, Facebook page and Twitter, which result in ‘one on one’ engagement with our viewers. It is easier to understand our viewers’ choices and preferences through digital platforms, which help us better cater to their viewing needs.

How successful has the Pix fan page on Facebook been? Any plans for more promotional activities using social media?
Yes, most definitely. Pix was the first English movie channel in India to be present on Facebook and today our ‘family’ has grown to 2.27 lakh. I strongly believe that the number of members should not be the prime focus, the interaction should be. We enjoy ample dialogue and exchange of ideas with our users through Facebook, which is very helpful since the platform allows complete transparency. We regularly hold contests, share Hollywood trivia and news, pictures, trailers and much more that our viewers would like.

Please tell us more on the Internet radio concept introduced on the Pix website.
After launching our first webisode series called ‘The Bannen Way’, we wanted to offer something unique on the website. KCRW Radio is a station which can be streamed on to know about the business of show business. This features the best of entertainment news from the heart of Hollywood, which offers the chance to hear about and from top personalities from Hollywood and find out who’s making current headlines straight out of Tinseltown.

How has Pix managed to attract Indian advertisers over the years? What were the challenges?
Pix was launched in 2005, and within months we had attained a spot among the top three channels in the category. Advertisers were engaging with Pix back then and continue to advertise with the channel today. A challenge for us, which was actually a bonus for advertisers, was a complete makeover of the channel – from a library channel, Pix transformed into a current blockbuster channel. This change was welcomed by all our sponsors and attracted many more brands across FMCG, automobiles, retails, etc., to advertise with us. We also always ensure that an association is explored beyond just advertisements on the channel through on ground engagement.

What are your marketing strategies for the channel, and what advertising has been planned for the near future?
Constant visibility is the key for us and we are always creating new avenues to reach out to the viewers. Our aim is to ensure that Pix is visible every day, month on month at all possible platforms – right from local transport like buses to sophisticated digital platforms. Going forward, we will look at increasing tie-ups with like-minded brands to further create platforms to increase engagement with the viewers.

What is the market share of Pix in the English entertainment genre in India?
Our current market share is 21 per cent.

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