It’s been almost a year since MTV Networks India saw a change in leadership, during which Frank Brown took charge of the Indian operations in addition to his other responsibilities and finally the reigns coming in the hands of Amit Jain, who then took over as MD, MTV Networks India. In an exclusive tete-a-tete with exchange4media, Jain speaks about his vision for MTV India.
According to him, two things clear on the agenda were – brand architecture and fundamental change in business model – leading to offer Viacom Brand Solutions.
Jain said that MTV Networks India was at a stage where the need of the hour was to concentrate on the foundation. In order to emphasise his point, he drew a comparison with MTV’s international operations and said that the Indian market still continued to be a great opportunity.
Jain has taken his time on speaking on how he views this opportunity and what can be done to seize it. Chalking out the plan of action that the company had embarked on, he informed, “One of the things we are doing right now is going through a process of brand architecture.”
Elaborating on that, he said that Nick was now gaining foothold by taking some key actions for the India market, while VH1 was progressing towards creating its own place. He divulged that MTV Networks was contemplating leveraging the advantage it had when it came to brand flexibility. “MTV has the license to stand for just about anything. The M can be range from being for ‘Masti’ to standing for ‘Money’ with Music still at the core of the channel,” he said.
On being quizzed further as to what else the ‘M’ stood for, Jain replied, “It is too premature to be exact on that right now but in three months’ time, we can come back to you with something concrete. One thing we are clear on is that these initiatives would be grounded on consumer insights.”
Jain viewed this as the growth of the MTV brand, and the next logical step in this evolution. In addition to this, another basic thought that comes to the fore is that despite MTV India doing some innovative works for the youth TG, the channel has not focussed much on marketing these initiatives.
Commenting on this, he said, “We have had a strong grip on the youth TG, but we must also understand that this TG outgrows and we have to take clear steps to be already present in the minds of the fresh crop. This can happen only when we communicate with them a lot more than what we have had been doing. One of the clear focus areas following the crystallisation of the initiatives we would take to grow the MTV brand further is marketing.”
He was quick to add that by marketing the intention of the company wasn’t going to be to market new properties, but gradually developing a brand in the youth mind space. “The marketing steps may not necessarily be programme centric at all. What you will be seeing is the many forms of the M of MTV as I just said,” said Jain. Citing examples like ‘Ghoom’ and the initiatives around it, he pointed out that the programming initiatives were already moving in that direction.
Apart from getting the brand architecture right, the next target of extreme focus was being able to provide integrated brand solution, which Jain termed as Viacom Brand Solutions – the phrase defining MTV’s way forward in India. “We are looking at fundamentally changing our business model all together,” he said.
On the points that had allowed MTV to do this, Jain said that MTV was different from any classical channel, had the advantage of in-house creativity, had the legacy of people working closely with clients, an incomparable understanding of the youth market, and the ability to execute marketing innovations.
“We are in a unique an interesting position, where we have all this in-house already and despite that when we got to clients, we speak of selling air-time. But we are not just TV – we are really in the branded entertainment space and we have to make this work better for us and be able to develop integrated brand solutions for our client. Our strategy in India is going to be offering brand solution unique to clients and not just for MTV, but also Nick and VH1 – hence, I see this as Viacom Brand Solutions,” he stressed.
The company has already taken key steps to achieve this, like reducing the inventory on the channels. Jain added, “We have cut down very sharply on our advertising. We are keen that we want to create an A-Class environment for the consumers of our brands and we have cut down clutter for this. It is just not enough to put a brand on air anymore.”
Jain is clear on what he wants for MTV Networks in India and is gunning for allowing the Viacom success to truly reflect on the Indian operations. With the speed in which things are evolving today, it wouldn’t be long before we find out whether this bold strategy pays off for MTV.