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Sony rejuvenates Fame Gurukul, experiences mixed reactions from advertisers

Sony rejuvenates Fame Gurukul, experiences mixed reactions from advertisers

Author | Noor Fathima Warsia | Wednesday, Aug 31,2005 8:00 AM

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Sony rejuvenates Fame Gurukul, experiences mixed reactions from advertisers

Sony Entertainment Television is going all out to ensure that Fame Gurukul, one of its key properties at present, gets numbers worth talking about. Though Fame Gurukul has seen its share of problems as far as its TRP is concerned, this hasn’t discouraged SET or the show’s advertisers from engaging in unique alliances. The channel has now also induced key changes in its content as well.

Despite what Sony officials emphasised, the industry cannot but help compare the show to the immensely popular Indian Idol, and hence, in terms of numbers, Fame Gurukul doesn’t appear to be an interesting proposition.

Tarun Katial, EVP and Business Head, Sony Entertainment Television, insisted, “Unlike Indian Idol, which was on one of the highest delivering slots, Fame Gurukul has come on a trying slot, and it has helped us tremendously in building the 8.00 pm to 9.00 pm weekday band, together with ‘Kaisa Ye Pyaar Hai’.”

Katial added that in the 8.00 pm to 8.30 pm band, ‘Kaisa…’ was currently the top rated show across channels, which held true given the present performance of shows like ‘Dekho…’ on Star Plus and ‘Tumhari Disha’ on Zee TV, which largely played in the 1 plus mark, where ‘Kaisa…’ delivered more than 2 TVRs and 3 TVRs.

In the case of Fame Gurukul, the show has consistently given the slot 2 plus and 3 plus figures. For SET, this is good news. “Compared to what the slot was seeing prior to this, these are great numbers. The whole band is looking good and for the channel and our advertisers, this is great news,” maintained Katial.

The sponsors are content with the association so far, but media buyers are not too happy. Giving a perspective on what the sponsors feel, Ajay Nambiar, Head, Channel, Sify divulges, “The experience so far is absolutely encouraging. Clinic All Clear is the main sponsor of the Fame Gurukul special website. HLL’s feedback has been very positive. Websites like this hold high potential for attracting advertising and sponsorship revenues. The response has been tremendous in terms of user feedback and traffic to the site too. To give you an example, over 4,000 queries were received from close to 2,000 users during a 45-minute chat with one of the more popular contestants of the show. We could not have asked for more.”

Giving a media fraternity point of view, Nandini Dias, VP, Lodestar, said, “Yes, these are better numbers than what Sony has been seeing on that slot, but the concept has not caught on with the same vigour as Indian Idol had. I would not call these very good numbers.”

“Too much of a good thing is also not good,” offered Gautam Rajagopal, Head, Broadcast Investments, OMS. “Back to back shows, which are almost similar in nature, aren’t going to keep the audience hooked on – they are going to get them bored. And to think that they will follow this up with Indian Idol 2 – they just might have jeopardised that property as well.”

Even as media professionals aren’t too excited with the numbers at present, no one can ignore the tie-ups and associations that the show has managed.

Nina Jaipuria, Vice-President, Marketing, SET, observed, “The idea is to connect with the youth TG and there are various steps we have taken to uniquely reach them than just some print ads and hoardings.”

The marketing and content uplift

Jaipuria enlisted the tie-ups, beginning with the three-way relation with Sify, where an episode is present on a website for the first time ever in television history. Pizza Hut is carrying Fame Gurukul leaflets with its home deliveries and has even created a ‘Jodi’ special offer. Sony BMG is in a similar alliance. Outlet branding is inclusive. A joint card with Idea cellular will be issued soon.

Apart from MTV, where there is extension of the Gurukul property, there has been content syndication with Red FM and Aaj Tak and print partners like Dainik Bhaskar, HT and Mumbai Mirror.

“We have associated with them in different ways,” informed Jaipuria, “For example, we are running contests with benefits available only to Mumbai Mirror readers and so on.”

One of the most interesting associations is with Clinic All Clear, where a joint ad has been shot with All Clear brand ambassador Shahid Kapoor and Fame Gurukul ‘brand ambassador’, Ila Arun. Kapoor has been even associated with the show at different levels like holding a workshop for Gurukul students as also other appearances in the show.

“We played up the common proposition of confidence that All Clear offers and Gurukul students need,” said Jaipuria. While the action on the marketing end is becoming more aggressive in order to connect better with the youth, the content is seeing its share of action as well.

When the viewers would have expected it the least, Fame Gurukul has seen some key changes. Throwing more light on these, Anupama Mandloi, Creative Head of the show, informed, “At this stage on the show, we can use a wild card.”

She explained that the usage was flexible and differed from market to market. In the Indian version, two new contestants are introduced at this stage and one old contestant has the chance to come back.

Mandloi further said, “This brings the ‘new’ element, consequently increasing viewer interest and bringing back the unpredictability of the show’s end. It also changes the equations in Gurukul, which again makes for great viewing.”

The show’s finale is planned for mid-October, and how the scene will change until then isn’t really clear.

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