Branded content may be the buzz word in most circles today and many players have been trying various experiments in the segment. Channels like Sony carried out tests in in-programme product placement (IPP). Zoom had examples like ‘Close-Up Speed Dating’ and ‘Kyouni Hot Spots’, and recently DD saw ‘Wheel Smart Sreemati’ as cases in advertiser funded programming (AFP).
STAR too has tried its hand at AFP before – one of the earliest examples being ‘Lakme Fashion House’ on STAR One. IPP wasn’t seen on STAR before – Lux placement in ‘Kahiin Tho Hoga’ done in 2004 is still a widely cited example in advertising circles. However, the focus on the segment has sharpened. Perhaps it makes sense for the channel given recent rulings like 10+2 minutes of advertising in every one hour of programming and the fact that advertisers’ interest in such options has increased.
The new initiative sees the launch of AFP, headed by Manoj Vidwans. Deepak Segal, EVP, Content and Communication, STAR Entertainment, informed that the key role of this division was to marry a unique idea with a brand and in the process develop content. He said, “We would place these shows in the early primetime slots and on prime weekend slots. It’s a whole package, so there are other factors like free commercial time and so on included.”
‘Rin Mera Star Super Star’, produced by Endemol India, and which will be aired on STAR Plus in the 7.30 pm slot is one such example. Segal informed that there were many such ideas that were being explored at present.
“These are shows tailor-made for the advertiser. On the other hand, there are cases when you can just integrate a brand on a show,” Segal observed.
The IPP division has been launched for this purpose. Segal explained that IPP could be done in three ways – incidental, deliberate and in-your-face. “Incidental is where in any case the show is using certain kinds of products like cell phones, cars and other such things. The IPP division will explore where relations can be built. Deliberate would be when a show could’ve done without a particular product. Using it doesn’t affect the show in any way and the brand gets exposure. In-your-face would be going out of your way to speak about a brand, and hopefully, we wouldn’t see much of that,” Segal mused.
He informed that while these divisions would cater to the need of all the channels in the Network, largely STAR Plus and STAR One would be areas of focus. “There is digital placement of products done today, but really, you can’t integrate a product in a movie,” said Segal.
The likes of STAR, MindShare and HLL focussing on these areas are indicators of branded content finding more prominence in India. Getting the audience has never been so difficult – STAR is already looking at webisodes and mobisodes to materialise. As far as Indian broadcasting is concerned, we have reached the stage where ‘Content never sleeps’.