Zee pumps up the volume around Playwin, Jeena Will the advertiser bite?

Go for the jugular. Thats a tactic used in the animal kingdom when a hunter is close to a prey it has been stalking for some time. Thats a tactic used in the corporate jungle when one rival finds itself with its back to the wall.

Two days back, Zee Telefilms pounced on rival Star India through an advertising campaign, which is running in the pink press - in an extremely aggressive play. The ad campaign targeted at advertisers and media planners is making a pitch for Zee TVs shows Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai (JIKNH) and Khelo Number Khelo. It builds a case for the two shows as big ticket items which the media fraternity should should ride, forgetting about the KBCs and the "Saas Bahu" sagas.

And this despite the fact that Khelo and Jeena have continued to have swinging ratings (both have flitted in and out of the top 100 rated shows in the last five weeks). Zee TV says in the ads that saas bahu soaps cannot sustain viewer interest for long now. Quoting in house statistics, it claims that approximately 7.6 million C & S households that own a Playwin Super Lotto ticket are a captive audience for Khelo, its game show produced by Miditech, that announces the online results midway through the show. With jackpots of over Rs 2 crore (Rs 20 million) and Rs 8.61 (Rs 86.1 million) crore being won in the last one month, the channel claims interest in the lottery as well as in the show has shot up.

Jeena too, the ads claim, commands a 45 per cent viewership (the episode featuring Laloo Prasad Yadav), with rival channels commanding corresponding figures of 27, 21 and eight per cent. Friday night viewing, claims the network is not for digesting celluloid domestic squabbles but for celeb talk that tugs at heartstrings.

It is still unclear whether advertisers will bite the bait, though. Media planners, while admitting that Playwin has caught the fancy of the populace, are reluctant to say whether the success will translate into better ratings for the show.

Initiative Media vice president Partha Ghosh says that viewers need not necessarily log on to a show, as the results would be available offline later. "You cannot necessarily convert the success of a product in the marketplace into a successful show", he opines. Whereas if you miss an episode of a soap like Kyunkii, you miss a vital link in the series, you do not miss much if you skip an episode of Khelo or Jeena, he adds. The ads, a product of Zee's creative agency Rediffusion DY & R, hit out straight at "saas bahu" serials that have cornered a vital share of viewers' imagination. Hinting that the ratings do not reflect the true picture, the ads say advertisers are still led to believe that people would much rather watch a creaky sob story than find out if they have won the kind of money that will have them laughing all the way to the bank.

StarCom's Pradipto Nandy disagrees. "The campaign (to wean away advertisers from soaps to game shows) will not work as a long term strategy," he says. Besides, he points out, viewers need not stick to the channel for the entire duration of the show if they are merely interested in following the results of the online lottery, he points out.

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