See rebranding from the viewer's lens, not the organization's: Sudhanshu Vats

Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18 Media on the purpose and strategy behind rebranding 5 ETV regional channels as Colors, maintaining ETV’s legacy while bringing contemporariness of Colors, & creating more appeal for advertisers

e4m by Priyanka Mehra
Published: Mar 5, 2015 9:54 AM  | 5 min read
 See rebranding from the viewer's lens, not the organization's: Sudhanshu Vats

Following the announcement made by Colours from the Viacom 18 stable, expanding its product portfolio, with  Five ETV regional channels rechristened as Colors Marathi, Colors Gujarati, Colors Bangla, Colors Kannada and Colors Oriya, Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO Viacom18 Media, talks about the reasons for rebranding of the ETV channels with the group’s flagship channel Colours. With this move, the Group also aims to offer cost effective and targeted solutions for advertisers.

“The profile of advertisers will depend on the kind of shows we will do. The Prism team will look at each of these advertisers as they go forward. There will be appeal for more advertisers because it will be a more diversified plate of shows. The purpose of rebranding to Colors is for the Prism team to be able to exploit the opportunity in its entirety i.e. increase in viewership, increase in ad revenues,” shares Vats.

ETV Kannada now rebranded Colours Kannada is currently leading the pack in terms of performance.

Subject to receipt of mandatory regulatory approvals, Viacom Inc. through its subsidiary Nick Asia will acquire a 50% interest in the five regional general entertainment channels, while TV18 will continue to own the remaining 50%.

“59% of the country converses in regional languages as their primary language of choice. Today regional TV channels command the second largest viewership in India. The expansion fuels our growth strategy in building the Colors franchise, says Vats and further adds, “the revelation of the new brand identity of each of the five regional channels has been staggered across a period of two months starting March 3, 2015. It is scheduled to coincide with regional festivals that mark new beginnings.” Excerpts from the interview:

What led to the rebranding and why Colours? When did the rebranding journey start?

One of our key strategy pillars is sharper segmentation. The journey started when TV18 had expressed an intent to buy ETV channels around three years ago. After TV18 moved into the acquisition, we looked at synergies, as Prism was being managed independently. We were looking at synergies we could offer, particularly in the entertainment  channels.

First we started by seeing where can there be synergies in programing. We looked at some of our key fiction and non -fiction properties  being played out by the Prism  team, whether it was Big Boss being attempted in Kannada and Bangla , or Jhalak Dhikhla Jaa  called The Dancing Stars in Kannada . We also looked at Uttaran and Balika Vadhu in the fiction genre.

We also thought we should look at synergy at the brand level, we applied to MIB and got the permission a month back to rebrand to Colours.

How are you going to strike the balance maintaining best of both Colours an ETV?

ETV has some plusses which include heritage, trust , and has been a pioneer in regional space. Colours brings the ability to stretch the envelope, with modernity and will bring trails of newer viewers, and an increased viewer base with more urban viewers.

Are there any plans to launch a new regional channel the Tamil market in particular is a market with big potential?

Yes, Tamil is a big market, but as of now we don’t have anything. Could we do something in the future? Perhaps yes.

We have seen some of the biggest rebranding exercises go wrong in the past across various categories, what are your principles of rebranding?

Consumer’s view, not yours:  You have got to see rebranding from the lens of the viewer, not the organisation. Synergies will only come if you are giving the viewer what he wants to see. We have done immense research in this regard to really understand where the two brands stand on this and some amount of testing through some of our programmes as well to see traction.

Balance between the new and old: To see you bring the benefits the new brand and retain the all the qualities of the old brand.

Do not rubbish the past: It is important not to rubbish the past, because everything that was done in the past had relevance and invariably done with the right intent.

Generate awareness for the consumers: Generating awareness for the viewer and consumer is integral the consumer needs to be communicated.

A few points from the Equity study done by Viacom18 towards  the rebranding exercise include:

Colors has strong positive imagery around high production values, bold themes, innovative non-fiction and programming that drives change/social programming.

Colors is the only channel that has achieved success and ratings across both fiction and non-fiction shows. It is regarded by viewers as an “all rounder” and an “activist”. In summary, a rebel with a cause.

Colors does not shy away from taking risks and placing big bets like 24.

 Merging the strong legacy & rich cultural roots of ETV channels with the positive imagery & entrepreneurial DNA of Colors shall result in potentially the best of both worlds. A quantum leap for regional content which is contemporary & progressive yet rooted firmly in a bedrock of rich values & tradition.

Development of the ecosystem spurring the creation of jobs and emergence of writers, producers, directors, and actors.

Cost effective and targeted solutions for advertisers.

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