Tata Sky’s celebrity association: Key to increasing sales

MUMBAI: ‘Isko laga dala toh life jingalala’ was one line that caught the attention of the entire country. To add to it, DTH operator Tata Sky got on board Bollywood celebrity Aamir Khan to endorse the product in his inimitable style. Last year, it took a u-turn to the south and roped in Kerala film star Mohanlal to do the trick in the Malayalam market and recently it tapped into the north east section of the country with popular singer Papon.

While Khan endorsed the product years ago, Mohanlal was taken up only last year and Papon was roped in during the 2014 FIFA World Cup to send the message of Tata Sky into areas where it hasn’t gained traction. Mohanlal was used extensively across the state through TVCs, van activations and outdoor hoardings. “We wanted to tell that Tata Sky is as much a Malayalam brand as it is in other parts of the country. So we wanted a name that would connect not just with the audience but with the brand offering as well.  We had Mohanlal speak to the family audience after he tested our product and approved its quality,” says Tata Sky CCO Vikram Mehra.

Simultaneously it launched 19 Malayalam channels and set up sales and services structure in the state including 3000 dealers across 10 districts along with service partners and call centre executives trained in the local language. The perception of the brand was that it had less Malayalam channels and poor infrastructure. The TVC with Mohanlal sought to communicate a new message- ‘there can be arguments on many things but no arguments on our set top boxes’. A year on, Mehra says that its sales in the area have multiplied by 800 per cent.

Taking advantage of the FIFA fever in June 2014, Tata Sky went ahead and introduced HD and personal video recorder (PVR) along with its latest innovation of streaming Tata Sky channels on the laptop. “With these products, we wanted to associate with someone who could talk to the youth segment,” says Mehra. Hence, popular singer Papon’s photo was spread across print, outdoor and digital with a lot of stress on the former.

The result was a 110 per cent increase in sales in the seven sister states with a lot of it coming from its laptop viewing service. Phone and iPad service did not pick up well.

Soon, the operator is looking to unite itself with two more personalities. “We will be making an announcement soon regarding two other south Indian markets,” says Mehra.

This apart, Tata Sky also undertakes several associations for its ‘home’ channel, targeting markets at a time. The personalities roped in for promotion of the home channel include former cricketer Navjot Singh Siddhu and actors Nina Gupta and Richa Chadda. According to Mehra, personalities are used depending on the market, the product and whether there is a need for a famous face to be associated with the product.

Several researches are conducted for particular markets as well as on a regular basis. Regular research is done with GFK Mode and Nielsen as and when required. “I personally visit 300 customer homes every year for feedback,” says Mehra. The core team of 14 people ensures that every month 3 million Tata Sky homes are reached out to, to know their feedback on its services.

Surveys are conducted for all states individually every month and the market is analysed over two or three years. Simultaneously its product offerings are also studied in terms of consumer reception.

This involves third party agencies reaching out to random sample size of people who are ready to buy a DTH set top box and ask them which brand will they buy and why? This is termed as ‘intention to buy score’. The measurement is done comparing ‘intention to buy score’ to the actual sale in that area.

Similarly, Tata Sky also introduced six new Odiya channels to promote that it is not only great in customer service but also its channel offerings.

A few years ago, this wouldn’t have been so easy, since it hadn’t been getting the additional transponder space from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). But now that has been overcome by using MPEG-4 technology compression.

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