nnovation paramount when pushing 'old' programming products: Star's Sameer Nair

MUMBAI: "Television is a curious and an extraordinary affair. If a show tanks it is because the promo was a failure. If a show does well it is due to the content."

With these tongue 'n' cheek remarks Star COO Sameer Nair opened his presentation on how channels can use promos to get the message across in an overcrowded market. He was speaking at the inaugural India edition of Promax&BDA this morning in the Mumbai suburb of Juhu.



Nair elaborated on the different kinds of promos Star works on. He said," There are different strokes for different folks. There is no one method. I have to deal with all kinds of people from the crazy guys at Channel [V] to the sophistication of Star Movies. While IDs are not done much for the general entertainment channels they work well with movie and music channels." He gave the example of an old Star Movies promo, which featured a howling bat.

Then there are promos that come under the imagery and imagination campaign. "They run for a minute but due to the clutter they are not seen too often. We had done an excellent one for Star News when it launched last year. The tagline was Aapko Rakh Aage."

The most important part of his talk which had the audience mesmerised was the one when he showcased several promos done for the landmark game show Kaun Banega Crorepati. Arguably the most crucial promo was the one that launched the show.

"For Kaun Banega Crorepati we had no studio to shoot the commercial in. So we went to London and filmed the promo in one take. Amitabh Bachchan wrote his own dialogue. Then the next promo made our call line the most popular telephone number in the country. Another example of a show promo is that of Josh which we pushed through 10 second countdown pieces."

Later on to reinforce the message when Star felt that Kaun Banega Crorepati was starting to flag it started the Nau Baj Gaya campaign. Another campaign was Aap Ya Aapke Padosi? This used the local paanwallah. These campaigns were done over an 18 month period.

Nair's speech was littered with innovative and funny sayings such as "A crisis is when you can't say let's forget about the whole thing. Fat people are harder to kidnap. A hospital is the place where they wake you up to give you a sleeping pill."



Nair also maintained that innovation was paramount when it came to old wine in a new bottle situations. This is when a channel shows a movie for the umpteenth time as was the case with Jurassic Park. Star Movies once showed the three Jurassic Park movies back to back. The hilarious promo had newspaper snippets stating that dinosaurs were wanted for crimes committed against humanity.

Nair pointed out that sound could be used in a very inventive manner for promos. An example was that of Terminator 2. The different sounds became a whacky rhythm which a was a great fit for the product. "However most channels in India do not use it as much as their Western counterparts. "

An interesting aspect of promos is when they are made out of mutual admiration. One example is what Krackjack did to lampoon Kaun Banega Crorepati. In the ad the closest place to Earth is not Pune or Delhi but the moon. That is because you can see it at night.

Nair ended his talk with a very important category of promos. "We do not win any awards for them but they ensure that we receive our salaries and are therefore able to sponsor events like Promax. This is what we do for our soaps Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhis Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki."

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