Television

"We are targeting internationally minded people with an interest in world politics, news and business" : Seema Kotecha BBC World head of marketing

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BBC World has appointed Seema Kotecha as the new head of marketing based in London. Kotecha will work closely with BBC's director of marketing Jane Gorard and will be responsible for developing marketing strategy for the channel's international teams in London, Singapore and Delhi





Kotecha worked as marketing controller at BSkyB in London, where she was responsible for developing, implementing the annual marketing plan and focusing on increasing subscribers. She had also worked for the airline industry prior to this stint with BSkyB.





Kotecha is a linguist - fluent in French, Spanish and Gujarati. She has a degree in European Studies and Languages from Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Granada. She has also worked as an intern in the European Commission in Brussels.

Kotecha responded to indiantelevision.com's Ashwin Kotian's queries and outlined her plans.

Excerpts -.

What are the challenges in developing marketing strategies for a channel such as BBC which means so many different things to different people in markets such as India, the UK, Singapore?



Well, you have identified one of the challenges already, which is marketing the BBC World brand and product consistently to some very diverse markets.

It is important to understand the cultural, linguistic and political differences in these markets, as well as the television market place and competition.

Other challenges include reaching our target audience efficiently and cost effectively. BBC World's audiences are very internationally minded people who often travel overseas, so we have to look for new and innovative ways in which to reach them whilst keeping our budgets in check.

Furthermore, they are an audience that is frequently targeted by advertisers - it's a constant challenge to reach them with a message that stands out enough to grab their attention and interest.

How do you ensure that the brand retains its common values and relevance across markets?



In terms of the product, BBC World is a global channel providing global news and programming for a genuinely global audience.

It is only in South Asia that we create customised programming specifically tailored for a country so there is commonality between all markets.

With the branding however, this can be a challenge. We ensure the brand retains consistency across all markets through maintaining very strong communication links between our overseas marketing colleagues and the central marketing team in the UK.

We have a clear centralised brand strategy for BBC World, which we ensure, is cascaded to all marketing staff worldwide. We speak with our international colleagues on a daily basis, share creative and best practice and meet as often as practical.

The trick is balancing strong communication with locally based marketing colleagues whilst allowing them the autonomy to ensure relevance to their market place. We also have fantastic support in our advertising and media agencies worldwide.

What kind of differences are there in BBC ad spends in these different markets - Delhi, UK, Singapore? What were the ad budgets in each markets last year? How much increase will the ad spends witness in this year?



I am afraid that I can't divulge our marketing budgets, but I can tell you that India, East Asia and Europe are our key markets so we do invest considerably in these markets. There is little difference between the regional budgets.

"An example of a successful ground promotion we have organized is the HARDtalk tour of India last year where we turned the tables on Tim Sebastian and invited senior media to interview him"

What kind of differences are there in BBC spends in below the line activities (ground promotions, direct mail, events) in these different markets? What kind of events has BBC World organised?



We invest in a variety of below the line activities and there is no significant bias in our spend between direct mail, promotions and events. It just depends on which activity we feel is the best solution to meet the brief.

An example of a successful ground promotion we have organized is the HARDtalk tour of India last year where we turned the tables on Tim Sebastian and invited senior media figures to interview him. The tour visited the cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

What are the other ways in which you target the core audience? How do you expand the audience base? Which are these new audiences which BBC is targeting?



We use advertising - largely press and outdoor, events, direct marketing, PR and promotions. We expand the audience base by using a combination of brand marketing to increase an overall awareness of the channel with programme specific promotion to create an appointment to view. We are targeting internationally minded people with an interest in world politics, news and business.

"Fortunately, BBC World has developed reputation for providing impartial coverage of the news and received many compliments on our recent coverage of the Iraq war"

How do you manage to fight perceptions "that BBC also could be endorsing the political point of view" - a recent example is the US-Iraq conflict?



Fortunately BBC World has developed a reputation for providing impartial coverage of the news and received many compliments on our recent coverage of the Iraq war. We give our audiences every side of the argument and allow them to make up their own minds about the situation and form their own point of view. These values of balance, accuracy and integrity are absolutely key to BBC World's editorial output and are the very essence of the BBC brand.

What kind of efforts are being made to popularise the BBC brand on the Internet and target "surfers"?



The BBC News and BBC World websites are very well known around the world and receive millions of visits every day. However, we understand the importance of maintaining the loyalty of our online users as well as attracting new users, so will be placing greater emphasis on Internet marketing in 2003-4 than in the past. We will be looking at online advertising, sponsorship, e-marketing and partnerships.

How does BBC World use public relations to supplement the other marketing efforts?



PR is an integral part of BBC World's international marcom (marketing and communications) strategy, complementing and supporting key communications objectives at every level. BBC World has a full time PR team based in capital cities such as Delhi, which are responsible for generating consistently major amounts of coverage, through profile raising events and media relations.

What is your take on 360 degrees marketing - backing programming content with on ground events with the help of sponsor-partners?



This is obviously the ideal way we would look to promote any programming on BBC World. With a relevant sponsor/partner, we would look to create an event to build awareness of the programme and create some hype. We would look to support this with other promotion such as advertising, direct mail and Internet marketing as appropriate.

"We will be placing greater emphasis on Internet marketing in 2003-4 than in the past. We will be looking at online advertising, sponsorship, e-marketing and partnerships"

What kind of plans do you have to connect with the trade? Especially in the case of countries such as India where the unorganised cable distribution network has paucity of place (to accommodate channels on the prime band)? How often do you conduct seminars and workshops?



BBC World has strong advertising and network development teams who continuously reach out to the trade and keep them updated of new initiatives and developments. Our network development teams seek to maximise our distribution currently reaching 15 million homes.

We hope to build on these existing relationships and reach not only our broad audiences but niche groups such as university or management students, corporates, British councils and like minded associations by below the line initiatives and on ground events.

How often do you travel to the different markets in order to get a feel of the consumer behaviour?



Well, as I have only been here five weeks I haven't made any travel plans as yet! I have visited and worked with many of our markets in the past with my role at Virgin so am quite familiar with the consumer behaviour already.

However, it is important to meet with my marketing colleagues overseas and understand the television marketplace in each region so I will be visiting them in the near future.

"BBC World conducts regular surveys of its viewers - the Horizon survey profiles India's professionally qualified executives and was conducted by the NFO"

What kind of research is conducted to understand consumer/viewer/trade/psyche? What kind of investment does BBC make in this kind of research?



Like other broadcasters, BBC World subscribes to syndicated audience measurement from TAM, and other studies such as the IRS and TGI.

In addition, BBC World conducts regular surveys of its viewers - the Horizon survey profiles India's professionally qualified executives and was conducted by the NFO. Other recent surveys include the 'Ad Avoidance' study with Initiative Media which explored viewers' receptivity to commercials. We also looked at attitudes towards the recent war in Iraq, as well as a regular tracking survey and qualitative research exploring attitudes towards the channel.

We are planning a survey to understand attitudes towards the current boom in news channels.

Are there any plans to change the look/feel/format of the various shows? What about signature tunes? How do you make them relevant to different markets - or is it common and part of the BBC package?



There are no set plans to change the look or format of any existing shows at present. However, the shows are constantly under review and we will make changes as and when we feel they are necessary. We do ensure all shows are made relevant to the different markets.

A good example is Mastermind. In the UK, questions on the programme will be more Western or European in nature whereas Mastermind India will obviously need to contain questions more specifically linked to India.

What learnings (from the airline industry) will you bring and apply to the TV/broadcast sector?



The target audience for an international airline such as Virgin is actually very similar to that of BBC World, so I will definitely bring with me a very good understanding of our audiences and how to reach them.

Furthermore, working in the airline industry meant working across very similar markets as BBC World - India, East Asia, South Africa etc. This gave me the experience of not only promoting an international brand abroad (whilst competing with strong local and often longer established carriers), but also the experience of marketing in such culturally diverse markets, each in a different stage of maturity.

Finally, similar to global news, the airline industry is unpredictable and fiercely competitive. Consequently, I am very accustomed to working through nights and weekends to respond to a competitor marketing campaign or to adapt our strategy in response to an event like 9/11.

In a similar way, at BBC World, no two days will be the same and I have already started to familiarise myself with our global and local competitors and develop ways to differentiate BBC World to increase our audiences and market share.

Tell us your hobbies? Do you watch TV? What are your favourite programmes?



My hobbies include sport, yoga, theatre, travel and film. I do watch TV and needless to say I am a big fan of news! Other current affairs programmes I enjoy are Question Time and Panorama. To unwind, I love watching travel shows like Holiday.

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