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IMPACT Annv Spl: How to launch a channel

21-December-2011
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IMPACT Annv Spl: How to launch a channel

At UTV we don’t launch channels, we launch Brands. Here are the things we think about.

BYC: Know Your Consumer, in fact try to BECOME Your Consumer… learn about him/ her, meet him, feel, THINK, shop eat like him/ her immerse yourselves into their reality via research and immersions. You must hire the best research team within your organisation to drive this.

Finding the GAP: In an ever more cluttered broadcast space this is vital. It’s both a science and an art. When creating a new brand - we need to see what our consumer is STILL looking for in the broadcast space. We need to be able to understand what the consumer wants just before they know they want it. That way you can beat well entrenched brands in a matter of months. So, for example, take the kids’ space. Cartoon Network was No. 1 for 10 years. And then came this naughty super-Indian stand-out product called Hungama TV and toppled the leader in 18 months. Or take the youth space. MTV was the clear leader for a decade. Bindass is No. 1 and has built a strong brand equity by creating a proud to be Indian, bold, fearless brand with some standout programming. Take UTV Action - there were many, many movie channels. But we saw a clear gap and created a “Hollywood in Hindi” channel before anyone else saw the need. When it launched, UTV Action was three times ahead of all English movie channels and is the No. 1 Hollywood destination ever since. Or take UTV Stars, our latest baby. Was there a gap? Most said no. We said yes! The gap was that for a true-blue Bollywood insider. For the official channel of Bollywood who can tell you the inside story, who can allow you to enter the dream world of the stars and make dreams come true. And yes, we aim to be No. 1 in a month or two of launch.

Getting the brand right: After identifying the GAP… we use a well defined set of processes to create a STANDOUT brand. From choosing the perfect name to creating the brand values which fill that gap, every aspect of the brand from on-air branding to content, marketing, events, web, mobile, PR, office look, language, tonal quality of communication are all carefully WOVEN together to make a STANDOUT and CONSISTENT product for the consumer.

Getting the team right: People are everything. It’s a must that the people we hire fit the brand, especially in sales and brand functions. We look for smart, passionate people who match the brand and who share the UTV values of cutting edge creativity and integrity; and for me, personally, very important is their smile/ laugh! Always allow loads of debate and argument and then take your decisions. Everyone must get their view across strongly and clearly and then the leader should take the final call.

Driving the brand across all touchpoints: A brand is a set of PERCEPTIONS in the mind of your audience. It is born through experiences, all experiences use all the senses. Create your brand using ALL five senses. Plan everything you do with great care. Drive your brand through every means available, across every medium. Don’t forget to communicate INTERNALLY as well. Get your own people as excited about the brand – in fact MORE excited – as your consumer. Every single communication must be a brand fit. Every show must drive the brand promise. Ensure a blitz of communication at launch so that your audience WAKES up and takes NOTE that a new chapter in television history is in the making.

Meticulous planning: At the conceptual, as well as the execution levels, it is crucial to ensure that all key elements that go into a successful launch are taken care of in minute detail, be it in brand packaging, programming, research, scheduling, marketing, PR, distribution or anything else. The importance of careful planning and clean, effective execution can hardly be over stressed. Use your pert charts guys!

CELEBRATE everything! And try and have FUN!: And finally, always celebrate everything. Launching a channel is… well... how shall I put it … a FUN nightmare. So always keep the morale of the team up by giving them many public pats on the back for a job well done! A cake cutting is nice, a party is good. A Bonus is better!

Frankly, for me there is nothing more FUN and more stressful than launching a new brand/ channel. And I love it! Watch out for the next ones!

(Zarina Mehta is Chief Creative Officer – Broadcasting at UTV.)

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