Sony Entertainment Television (SET) has recently embarked on a new programming strategy to arrest the fall in numbers that it has been seeing. As part of these initiatives, the new 9.00 pm to 10.00 pm block has been witnessed a whole array of marketing activities.
While the leader has decided to be a lot choosier about its launches, SET has taken a different route for its shows, and rightly so, given that the task at hand is much different than that of other general entertainment channels’.
The task at hand for Sony at the time of launching the two new shows – ‘Aisa Des Hai Mera’ and ‘Thodi Khushi Thodi Gham’, which went on air on April 24, 2006 – was that in addition to sustaining the newly launched Friday line-up, the channel had to also drum up the ‘Indian Idol Season 2’ finale and create interest around the upcoming news shows.
Said Nina Jaipuria, Senior VP, Marketing, Sony Entertainment Television, “Since all three objectives had to be achieved, we were very planned in our approach. In addition to on-air, we used partnerships cautiously and ensured presence across mediums.”
For the ‘Indian Idol’ finale, in addition to promotions on channels like Aaj Tak, Sony also bought spots on cricket. The 9-10 pm block was promoted in three stages – first as a block; secondly, the two individual properties were introduced; and finally, the entire block with the tune-in was promoted. The shows were pushed on air on Sony Network and again across partner channels. The radio medium also saw both the new shows take up space.
Regarding usage of other mediums, Jaipuria explained, “The rationale was as is seen in some of our recent campaigns – choose a driver show and have most action around it. In this case, we chose ‘Aisa Des Hai Mera’ as it is a story that is untold on Indian television.” She further elaborated that the aim was to pick on one theme central to the show and then adapt it to each medium. For ‘Aisa Des Hai Mera’, it was playing up the idea of East meeting West.
This was seen in the case of outdoor as well. Some of the hoardings even attempt to attract attention by a portion of the hoarding being lit. Given the holiday season, the channel also promoted the show in theatres. The channel stuck stickers of ‘Reserved for Rusty’ behind the seats. “In theatres you get a captive audience and the message had to be peculiar to a show,” elaborated Jaipuria, adding, “We even stuck stickers on auto rickshaws this time and put up hoarding at railway stations.”
The launch day saw human banners promoting tune-ins and outdoor was used to the hilt as well. Free merchandising like mehendi tattoos were also given away on the day of the launch.
While these activities were seen in various towns and cities across India, on-ground action was seen in Mumbai and Delhi. In keeping with the central theme, the channel created cantors of performers dancing to Bhangra and Hip-Hop. The channel also initiated a ‘London Chalo’ contest.
Speaking on the overall strategy, given that this is the second time when the channel had to push more than one property at a time, Jaipuria said, “You need to prioritise. If you try and do everything you tend to lose focus and confuse the viewer. Hence, it is important to choose the show and then something that defines the show. Pick that up and drum it – adapt it to the vehicle peculiar to the show, and in the process ensure that you have the right innovations.”
That does sum it for Sony to a large extent. What remains to be seen is how the second leg of the new programming strategy will allow the channel to regain its No. 2 position.