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Rebranded Vh1 is a window to the world for India for international music, entertainment and pop culture: Ferzad Palia, Viacom 18

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Rebranded Vh1 is a window to the world for India for international music, entertainment and pop culture: Ferzad Palia, Viacom 18

Come November 19, the music space in broadcasting industry will see a new version of Vh1 with new content which includes live streaming of performances by Demi Lovato, Coldplay and Jay-Z from the Global Citizen Festival 2016 to be held in Mumbai. The redefined Vh1 affirms the channel’s position as India’s go-to destination for not only international music but music, entertainment and pop culture. The look has been done by in-house team with assistance from an external agency. Ferzad Palia, Business Head, English and Youth Entertainment, Viacom18 tells us more about the rebranding, the channel getting into local content, bringing in new advertisers and marketing plans for the same.


What’s the rebranding offering?

The look and feel is new. The entire environment of the channel is new. You have got a new primetime from 8.30 pm to 10 pm. You have got lot more content-based shows. We have always gone beyond music. But now we have increased it. So there will be lot more of celebrities and pop culture. It’s a window to the world for India under which you will have long-form content, music and celebrity-based shows, documentaries, album art, brand new set of music-based shows and music blocks. There will be new theme every day on the channel which will be socially integrated like ‘Man Crush Monday’, Teensday Tuesday’, ‘Woman Crush Wednesday’ and ‘Throwback Thursday.’ 

Tell us about your local content strategy.

Our local programming section is kicking off with two original shows, ‘VH1 Inside Access with Miss Malini’ and ‘VH1 India Diaries’. In the former, Malini goes out and explores the pop culture scene in India and reactions to international pop culture. It’s a reality show centering around Bollywood, fashion and lifestyle. ‘VH1 India Diaries’ explores local music beat. It’s a space for all things music & pop culture on TV covering independent, original and homegrown subcultures.

Plus, we will unveil a new block called ‘VH1 Sound Nation,’ our on-air platform for Indian artistes to push them. These are weekly shows. We would like to make more local programming. With time that will increase.

With the whole rebranding have you reached out to advertisers?

We reach out to advertisers on a constant basis. The base of advertisers will grow. Having said that, we have a robust base of advertisers across categories over the last 12 years. So it’s not going to be very different. Advertisers have shown interest and excitement in the new look.  We are one of the few brands who can pass off very customised and unique solutions to advertisers to reach out to this audience which is otherwise difficult to reach out. The uniqueness and affinity towards the brand has been positive.

With this move are you planning to increase your ad rate?

That’s again an evolving process. We do increase our rates every year. This year will be no different. It largely depends on what is it that’s unique to the advertisers, something that we work on every single day.

What insights did you get from the research done for rebranding?

The biggest insight was audience wanted something more from us. This will be seen in every part of the design. It’s going well beyond the music video both in terms of on-air and digital. 

What are your marketing plans for this medium? Any special emphasis on onground activities?

This is not going to be one of the heavy-duty mass media campaigns. It doesn’t need to be. It’s about organically growing our base which has been happening with digitisation and word of mouth over many years. We have loyal consumers who keep bringing in more consumers. So, organic growth has been phenomenal for us, both in terms of penetration within markets and in new market.

Coming to on-ground activities, we always had a very robust set of touchpoint activation. That doubles from this year onwards. From being a 10- 12 market focus on our activation we now move to 20-25 cities across various points ranging from salons, gyms and nightclubs. We have a rigourous local activation which includes colleges. That forms one of the most important parts of our marketing.  We go to more than 1000 touchpoints. 

Can you give us an idea on the budget for rebranding?

We have made significant investments in acquisition of more relevant international content and in terms of commissioning local production.

Our typical marketing budget is usually 10 per cent of the topline spend

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