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"Entertainment malls now an integrated marketing and communication medium" :

He is confidence personified when it comes to talking about the newly coined term (at least in India) - "corporate partnerships" - which, he says, will change the way in which entertainment malls in India are marketed. Prakash Mirpuri has been designated as Essel group's E-City Entertainment's head, corporate partnerships and communications - a term which he claims has been inspired by the classified ad columns of the US based Advertising News. Mirpuri, a commerce graduate from Mumbai's Sydenham College of Commerce, completed his post-graduation in law and international marketing management.

Mirpuri brings to the table over 20 years of experience in the entertainment and communication industry. Mirpuri has been instrumental in setting up the Water Kingdom (a part of the Essel Group) and also the Indian Association of Amusement Parks. E-City Entertainment (I) (E-City) is a part of the Essel Group and was incorporated in 1999. Mirpuri is streamlining the group plans to have around 12 such Family Entertainment Centres all over India, called Fun Republics. The first of these Fun Republics opened at Ahmedabad in July, 2001 and the second is scheduled to open in Mumbai by the end of May.

Mirpuri admits that he is more of an outdoor person and enjoys his weekly quota of two hours of "night clubbing". He also watches less than two minutes of TV but is more of a radio and mobile SMS person. A hard-core "Netophile", Mirpuri indulges in nearly three hours of work/pleasure related surfing every day.

In a t?te-?-t?te with indiantelevision.com's Ashwin Kotian, Mirpuri speaks about how advertisers and ad agencies can benefit from leveraging corporate partnerships in entertainment malls. He also speaks about how the first Fun Republic in Mumbai will provide several opportunities.

 

   

How do entertainment malls in the developed countries provide communication opportunities to advertisers?

Theme parks and entertainment malls have become an integrated marketing and communication medium to enable visitors to interact directly with the brand and where applicable, sample the line of products that the brand offers.

Each of them can channel key programme and brand messages through various multiple marketing platforms like live events, sampling, promotions and in-FEC advertising to reach targetted consumers at the local level.

Malls in the west are becoming a community resource for visitors, seniors, families and teens. They provide direct consumer contact with shoppers and visitors in a venue large enough to handle national tours, local events and customized entertainment opportunities that appeal to all age groups. When combined with technological capabilities such as the power to provide digital data capture, surveys, coupons and sampling to co-marketing partners, the end-result is a solution that cannot be duplicated in the marketplace.

 

 

Tell us about corporate partnerships and how they are revolutionising marketing of entertainment malls globally?

Corporate Partnerships is a new tool to include in any brands marketing and media plans. An entertainment mall offers a multi-media, multi-impression opportunity which lets the shopper discover the brand messages again and again throughout his time at the mall.

 

 

"When consumers visit an entertainment mall, they are open to advertising messages - their defences are down as they are not expecting a battering of ads. Moreover, they have come with the intention of spending money and having a good time"

 

 

How will Indian advertisers or corporates benefit from using e-city's Fun Republics?

Entertainment properties, by nature, have fixed revenue streams - ticket sales. But abroad, well known players such as Disney have one-third of their revenues coming from ticket sales; one third each from merchandising and content.

Therein lies the opportunity for entertainment proprietary owners who can conjure up various ways to connect with consumers. Contemporary media landscape has resulted in consumers, being fragmented and evasive. Mass media was the only option earlier but global research has shown that entertainment malls provide an attractive and suitable option.

When consumers visit an entertainment mall, they are open to advertising messages - their defences are down as they are not expecting a battering of ads. Moreover, they have come with the intention of spending money and having a good time. Research also shows that the closer the advertising to the consumer (at the point of sale) the better the impact on the sales.

Entertainment malls can also propagate "place based media". Abroad, there are several instances of VSATs being used to deliver customised messages to target audiences - for instance one set of messages being beamed to vets from vendors of animal products; another set of messages being shown through personalised broadcasting systems to people who are working out at treadmills.

 

 

"When inaugurated in May end, Mumbai's Fun Republic will be a complete young-adult destination by itself. E-City has a proactive, flexible and aggressive marketing and promotional strategy to ensure that the complex continues to remain high on the choice set of target customers"

 

 

What is so unique about Mumbai's Fun Republic?

What makes it unique is the fact that the space being offered is part of what will be Mumbai's first, truly integrated "Young-Adult Entertainment Centre". Young Adults as a segment, do not currently have any integrated entertainment venues dedicatedly targeted towards their lifestyle and Fun Republic in Andheri (Mumbai) is set to fill this much-felt vacuum.

Fun Republic is spread over a total area of 1,85,000 square feet and will have a 4-screen state-of-the-art cinema multiplex with 1300 seats, a food court, a huge shopping area and parking facilities for 650 cars. The top two floors of the Fun Republic complex will house an exclusive, membership-only, lifestyle zone branded as Experia. Experia will have Reviva - a fitness zone, Positivity will be the personality zone, 5 concept lounges called El Dorado, Starz-a fine dining restaurant with a bar, Federal Bureau of Intoxication (FBI) - a cluster of bars and dance floors, Matrix-a studio area, Cacophonyx - a collection of games and Fortune Zone which has games of chance.

When inaugurated in May end, Mumbai's Fun Republic will be a complete young-adult destination by itself. E-City will have a proactive, flexible and aggressive marketing and promotional strategy to ensure that the complex continues to remain high on the choice set of target customers.

 

 

How do you plan to convince advertisers or rather partners about the benefits of jumping on to the bandwagon of corporate sponsorships?

E-City already has a 250,000 square feet complex up and running at Ahmedabad since July 2001. Over 3.25 million people visit it each year. The specific promotional efforts undertaken for retail activities have yielded very high conversion rates at participating outlets. Fun Republic, Ahmedabad is today a living testimony to the belief that integration of diverse entertainment options, when backed with planned and aggressive marketing and promotional efforts, can make a success story.

We plan to turn the entire entertainment mall in Mumbai into a potent advertising environment / medium with larger than life impact right where the customer shops with big, bold productive formats created specifically for malls.

As far as media planners and advertisers are concerned, the biggest challenge is to counter the inherent resistance and hesitancy.

Advertisers and ad agencies are always wary of media where there is no control over the physical aspects such as maintenance of the signage, amongst others. Basically, there is no precedent; it hasn't been mapped, it is an uncharted territory and very often unmeasured media.

We are planning to offer certain pioneering value additions such as a Traffic Audit Bureau with the assistance of a third party research agency. We shall study aspects such as footfalls, OTS (opportunity to see), recall and perhaps even impact. In certain cases, the costs will have to be shared between the clients, ourselves and the research agencies by way of mutual deals.

We also plan to take away the operational hassles by offering clients access to our own creative team personnel who will supervise the entire operation. We shall also have random spot checks in association with the clients. In case of certain anomalies, we shall be flexible enough to offer extensions on an annual basis.

 

 

"As far as media planners and advertisers are concerned, the biggest challenge is to counter the inherent resistance and hesitancy. Basically, there is no precedent; it hasn't been mapped, it is an uncharted territory and very often unmeasured media."

 

 

How do you plan to ensure footfalls through advertising partnerships? What about synergies with Zee bouquet?

We are adopting a strategy that "money saved is money earned" rather than incurring capital expenditure first and then recovering the same.

We shall create a certain alliance club comprising of non-competing power brands which will partner us in advertising and marketing efforts. These brands will participate in infrastructure related costs in addition to ongoing promotional costs.

We shall definitely leverage the synergies within the Zee / Essel group. For our Ahmedabad operations, we have developed promotions on Zee TV and Alpha channels. Of course, we shall have to demonstrate the impact of such alliances - for instance we could give away programme guides to the audiences or develop opportunities for facilitating film-goer reactions which can be broadcast on the film based programmes on the channels.

 

 

"We shall also offer value to the youth adults at all times through a unique mix of loyalty programmes revolving around food, movies and shopping"

 

 

How will the positioning of the Fun Republic help advertisers to connect to the youth?

We are targeting the young adults but we won't alienate the others. The tone and style of communication will be the underlying element in all communication. We shall also offer value to the youth adults at all times through a unique mix of loyalty programmes revolving around food, movies and shopping.

Teens visit the malls very often; Teens spend a large percentage of their allowance in malls; Malls are the 3rd most popular shopping venue for teens; Teens and "tweens" still prefer brick and mortar stores to e-tailers because the mall is still where they meet and like to hang out with their friends; Teens have immense buying power; Influencers - Teens have a huge influence over every day and new purchases made by their parents; Open minded - Teens like to try and test new products and new technology. The teen market will grow by leaps and bounds in the next decade.

 

 

 

What kind of a proposition will you offer other retailers who plan to become a part of the Fun Republic?

The estimated annual traffic to Fun Republic, Andheri, as a whole will be in the region of three million people annually. The socio-economic profile of the target customers is likely to be SEC (socio-economic classes) AB hence retailers are assured a captive audience, which has adequate disposable income. This integration promises to make it an attractive proposition for retail entrepreneurs and shoppers alike.

The most compelling attraction for prospective retailers is the fact that they are guaranteed a huge captive audience of young adults who will visit the complex to partake the varied and integrated leisure facilities as they are all housed under one roof.

The second compelling reason for prospective retailers is the fact that this retail space is not being offered by a typical real estate developer but rather by an established, marketing-oriented, entertainment service provider with a national presence.

The relationship with the retailers will cross the boundaries of a typical, normal relationship between a mall owner and a tenant. So the retailer is assured that E-City, the retail space owners will collaborate with them in their business efforts by putting the marketing muscle of E-City behind the retailer to ensure the success of the retailer.

 

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