National Geographic had recently announced an extensive global rebrand across the company’s world-class media platforms, experiences and non-profit organisation and embraced a global tagline, ‘Further’. To reinforce the notion of ONE National Geographic, as part of this new branding effort, the network will drop the word ‘Channel’ both on air and off all around the world beginning November 14. The rebrand coincides with premier of the global property ‘Mars’, a story of mankind’s thrilling quest to inhabit Mars, executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. Swati Mohan, Business Head, Fox Networks Group and National Geographic India shares more insight into the rebranding, content strategy, the massive response to Leonardo Di Caprio’s ‘Before the Flood’ in India and marketing strategy for the rebranding.
Why the need for rebranding?
We needed this rebrand which defined National Geographic as a whole and ‘Further’ seemed to resonate well with the brand and all the assets collectively. That was one of the primary reasons. The second reason was ‘Further’ really defines the ethos and the spirit of the brand as it always has. The brand always has championed the cause for a deeper and better understanding of the world around us. There was no better word to really embrace the assets, brand and the new purpose of what we are looking forward to when it comes to content, messaging and talent, amongst others.
If you look at the timing of it there’s no better time to really focus on some of the most important topics of the world and in India specifically. It really says that it’s time to make a change to make people aware of some of these issues, it’s time to scratch beyond the surface, explore new territories and tell people there are newer and better way of doing things.
Why the decision of drop the word ‘Channel’ from the logo?
National geographic is not just a channel. It’s a 128-year-old institution and our purpose of what we do through our content, our magazine and other aspects on digital is the same. We needed something that can cut across and we needed one logo and one brand that would go across our assets. That’s why we have taken that historic decision to drop the word channel from the logo on it. It’s a global thing.
How did the advertisers react to the rebranded look?
The global relaunch happened on November 14. Our early reactions to the whole look and feel have been astounding. The look and feel also resonates with our new rebranding across the platform. It’s sophisticated and dynamic. It captures the whole purpose of quality, distinctiveness and creative excellence. We have got great response in the last few weeks. Advertisers reacted very positively to this unique format of ‘Mars’ which aired on November 14. The need to be part of a world that has purpose, meaning depth, words which resonate with consumers as well and there’s no need for advertisers to not be part of that entire journey.
What’s the content strategy?
There will be a lot of content. There are four large things to channel specifically. First is the look and feel which is sophisticated and has high quality. The second is the depth of content when it comes to style of storytelling. With ‘Mars’ we have first time dealt with scripted storytelling by Ron Howard. This was a Hollywood style documentary and scripted series coming together for the first time ever in the world. Third is the talent, earlier we had ‘The Story of God with Morgan Freeman’ on and off air and Leonardo Di Caprio’s ‘Before the Flood’, which is very relevant. Coming up we will have shows directed by the likes of Darren Aronofsky and James Cameron. So this is just the beginning when it comes to the kind of access and Hollywood talent that we will be bringing to the channel. We will be having various topics that would be driving change, purpose and awareness, a lot of that would also be made locally going forward.
How did Leonardo Di Caprio’s ‘Before the Flood’ fare in India?
‘Before The Flood’ has been seen by an unprecedented 64 million unique viewers globally (1.033 billion minutes viewed), across linear, digital, steaming and social platforms — making it the most-watched documentary in the world since 2000, and the most watched National Geographic film ever released. 12 per cent of this number was contributed by Indian viewers and out of 64 million 30 million was television viewership. In India, on the channel, we had a 200 per cent increase in that slot.
How are you leveraging this rebranding on digital platform?
We will continue what we are doing in terms of promoting the show. There will be integration of global website on nationalgeographic.com. You will see the new look on the website. There will be further integration. We will continue doing what we are doing on social media because we have led the way in that.
Are you looking to do any region specific content?
There is enough and more to celebrate when it comes to the space of innovation. Last year we did a documentary of ‘Mangalyaan’ or India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), the only channel to do so. Earlier this year did a show on Jagannath in Orissa. We don’t leave out any regions. There is enough and more in the country that can be part of the global stage.
How have you marketed the whole rebranding?
‘Mars’ was one property that marks the rebrand. Across Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore we have done on ground activations which includes virtual reality experiences around ‘Mars.’ Some of the response has been astounding. So it’s 360 degree marketing across outdoor, digital and print. In a lot of papers we have made a big splash on the front page.
The money has been equally distributed across all medium. On our sister company Star Network we have done a lot of promotions. It’s been a six-week campaign for us. It’s fair to say a fair amount has been spent.
Looking forward what’s the strategy?
We will take forward this global strategy. We are speaking to some renowned filmmakers to make some ground breaking content for us. In January, we will see local initiatives that will drive this process forward.