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World Brand Congress 2009: Change is the only constant, say brand leaders

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World Brand Congress 2009: Change is the only constant, say brand leaders

Day two of the World Brand Congress 2009, held in Mumbai on November 5, saw brand leaders in the television domain share their mantras for success in an interesting session. Insightful presentations were made by Shruti Bajpai, Country Head, HBO; Rameet Arora, Marketing Head - Color, Viacom 18 Media Ltd; Nikhil Madhok, VP - Marketing, NDTV Imagine Ltd; and Abraham Mathew Alapatt, Head - Branding and Corporate Communications, Future Generali India.

Change is the only constant

Speaking on ‘Making Insights Happen - The Brand Perspective’, Bajpai of HBO highlighted the brand journey in the US and its (HBO) achievements in India. She said, “Change is the only constant, it is something we are doing practically at every stage. The magic of HBO brand was in terms of content and programming, and the USP of HBO is unique brand of storytelling. In the years to come, I believe that consumers would want something beyond blockbuster films, in fact, it was HBO Original that made the brand in the US. HBO had managed to entertain, engage and constantly evolve. We managed to delight the viewers at every level, we even took to merchandising. Show merchandising is now the hottest selling item on HBO online store.”

The challenge for HBO was to make the brand bigger than the show, and this was achieved successfully, communicating what HBO stands for. For instance, HBO ran a campaign saying ‘There are stories and there are HBO stories’. While this was in the US, however, when HBO launched in India, it was not the first English movie channel and, according to Bajpai, India at that time was said to be going through a transformation, and although India was seeing the emergence of multiplexes, new and interesting kinds of films, etc., the English movie channels saw a mixed bag of anxiety and opportunities.

Explaining further Bajpai said, “It is very easy to launch a channel, but it is very challenging and difficult to sustain in the entertainment industry. What we did was change our approach. If you want to build the brand, you will have to tie up with all the studios, and that is what we did, rather than showing the same kind of movies. In India, what we also wanted to do was to increase Hollywood reach to broader audiences, therefore, we began to look at fundamental consumer truths and turn them into opportunities.”

Reaching out to both India and Bharat

Color’s Marketing Head Arora spoke about the challenges faced while launching the channel and the choices made that led to Colors becoming a success story in a short span of time. He elaborated, “We were launching at a time when there was already a clutter in the entertainment space. When we launched, we were the 11th player in the GEC space, which was not good, however, at that time, a lot of channels looked the same and even our research said that the market was challenging. What we did was listened a lot and talked little. We were looking at the leader straight in the eye and were not afraid of any failure and willing to take risks. What we decided was to be different, differentiation became a strategic choice, which also meant bringing new stories and even telling old stories in a new way. We wanted to be different and were committed to being different.”

“We wanted to be both Bharat and India as we were sure that as long as we flaunted our Indianess, we were fine. It is a great time to be in entertainment, the richness of culture and debate around us was going to become fuel for everything we wanted to do, however, being different and being consistent works hand in hand. We still reward feedback and we continue to listen more,” Arora added.

Developing content for marketing & media effectiveness

NDTV Imagine’s Madhok noted, “Media is an industry where it is difficult to build a brand. The GEC market has become very competitive and new formats like IPL are giving strong competition to GECs. Therefore, our marketing task was to drive fresh viewers on to the channel and re-establish NDTV Imagine. As a marketing team, our approach was to develop content that would become a marketing offering and would pull in viewers during primetime. Thus we came up with ‘Rakhi Ka Swayamvar’, however, the marketing challenge was the poor response from both advertisers and viewers initially. Nevertheless the curiosity level began to increase once we started communicating about the show, building credibility and even surprising the viewers at every level, and this was our marketing approach, and after the first two episodes, we began getting tremendous response from advertisers.”

Madhok further said that NDTV Imagine kept the message alive even after the launch. Traditional media, the Internet, and word of mouth were used to cover the show. The Internet was used to target the youngsters through community building, Rakhi Sawant games and even live chat with Rakhi Sawant. “The show ended on a spectacular note, which crossed all our expectations and, therefore, right from the beginning to the end this show worked for us like a dream,” he added.

Brand Dialogue: Focusing your brand dialogue on brand delivery

Alapatt of Future Generali India wondered if we really put our customers at the core of what we offered. According to him, “The real issue is what you can deliver on ground and not what you talk about. A bad experience will stay in the mind of a consumer for a long time, hence improving your brand delivery would mean coming to your basics. Customers are willing to buy as long as you keep your promises and hence, I believe, we got to have human solutions for human problems. What brands need to do is listen more and deliver what you promise.”

The World Brand Congress 2009 was presented by Hindustan Times and Canon, while Fly Kingfisher was the associate partner and domestic partner, and BigAdda its exclusive social networking partner.

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World Brand Congress 2009: Winners of Global Awards for Brand Excellence announced


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