Viacom18: The 'Bigg Boss' of brand integrations

MUMBAI: Evolution is the key to survival. And the Media and Entertainment industry has mastered the art.

With changing times, the broadcasters, advertisers along with media agencies are coming up with newer and better ways to put forth their message to their viewers beyond the 10 sec or 30 sec TVC. Innovative ways are being found and negotiated to go beyond the 12 minute ad cap authored by the government.

One such network, which through its numerous entities, can be said is at the forefront of it is Viacom18. Take a look at its latest film Mary Kom or Colors’ Bigg Boss. They are a perfect example of how brands can be integrated.

According to Viacom18 group CEO Sudhanshu Vats, as the network offers sponsorships, it will continue to strengthen the value additions like in the case of Snapdeal and Bigg Boss.

Madison Media, recently did brand integrations with the reality show for TVS Scooty Zest and Britannia. Says the media planner from the agency, who didn’t want to be named, “No other network has so many reality shows under its belt. And they all provide a perfect platform to showcase what the sponsor needs to communicate to the audience.”

The deal is made on the table when sponsor and title sponsors come on board. The value additions help the brands to get value for the big bucks they spend on them.

For instance, in Bigg Boss, the key carriers of the brand integration which is also an integral part of the show’s format are the various ‘tasks’ that are given to the housemates to prove themselves. “We ideate in a manner that a brand /product gets woven beautifully in a given task and their positioning and offerings gets highlighted in a seamless manner. For example, the Snapdeal portal used by the housemates to buy essential household items,” says Colors CEO Raj Nayak.

Brands that associate as sponsors, gets branding presence in the house most suitable for their category.  The Garnier Men’s Products posters are put up in the bathroom, which gets featured in the show every day; similarly, making a call to a loved one, using the Oppo Smart Phone.  Nayak adds, “Suitable to the format and content, brand consumption/ usage is also integrated within the day’s activities.”

The network’s youth entertainment channel, MTV, started embedded advertising in the beginning of the year and since then have had many clients willing to take the new form of advertising. The first few ones being Nokia, Tuborg, ITC and Gionee. 

The phenomenon isn’t new, but a lot of broadcasters are taking the route to keep the advertisers happy as well as get in the mullah. The network, which follows the restricted advertisement air time, hikes its rates at regular intervals to keep the in-flow going. And through its numerous properties keeps the marketers happy. 

With the onset of reality shows, advertisers have got more opportunities. Also, one can have repeat messaging in non-fiction shows, which is not too easy to introduce in fiction shows.  However, if ample development time is given, then even in fiction shows brand stories can be fused, as Colors did with Tata Motors for its show 24.

IPG Mediabrands India GM (content and experiences) Dhruv Jha elaborates on the Tata Motors and 24 deal. “These integrations are more like an extension of the media deals, but they need to done in a smart manner. A forced-upon integration can put off a viewer and not benefit both the channel and the brand as well.”

To make the integration an integral “part” of the show, one needs to draw the fine line. The task isn’t easy.

Ideation starts with the brand brief; next comes synergising the key messaging of the brand with the most suitable content piece so as to hit the viewers/ consumers in the most fitting manner.  It is also important to review the operational aspect during ideation – arranging for the products, branding scope in the scene, feasibility of integrating the brand ambassador etc.  Social media is often used to create pre and post telecast buzz around the integrations.

“Innovation is something that has been ingrained in our channel’s DNA, and as the saying goes, if you’ve seen it before, it ain’t innovation. We challenge ourselves with every show – whether its Bigg Boss, Khatron ke Khiladi, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, India’s Got Talent or 24 to ensure that there’s a delight factor both for the viewers as well as the sponsors,” boasts Nayak.

The brands which show the most interest to come on board are e-commerce and smartphone companies. And now with the markets stabilising, the channels are also seeing renewed interests from auto sector, food and FMCG sectors.

The trend is now veering towards integration of brands “strategically” across all engagement points and not be uni-dimensional or have a shotgun approach. 

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