English movie channels go beyond the idiot box

MUMBAI: As more and more players look to explore the English movie channel space, the genre is aggressively moving ahead to reach consumers beyond their television sets.

The idea is to create multiple touch points that will imprint and hence establish the "differentiated positioning" and brand identity firmly on to the minds of consumers. And these touch points range from malls, restaurants, clubs to social networking sites, coffee shops and theatres.

Says Pix business head Sunder Aaron, "It‘s important to continuously strive to widen the reach and constantly improve the perception of a brand in a fast growing and dynamic market like ours. That‘s virtually impossible if you don‘t engage Indian viewers outside of the home and use different and clever ways to get your message across."

Pix organised the ‘Hollywood Pix Your Brain‘ initiative that ran across Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune and Hyderabad. The initiative positioned the cities as the place to be for all those who want to test their knowledge on Hollywood movies and trivia.

Says Pix business head Sunder Aaron, "Below-the-line activities are critical to branding for television channels. Pix was the first to launch an on-ground event around Hollywood films, and the aim was to strengthen the association between the channel and Hollywood."

Aaron adds that among other things the channel is also looking at tie-ups with out of home screens at McDonalds and Café Coffee Day where their promos can run on a continuous basis.

For Zee Studio, a major point of focus this year has been the Shut Up and Watch film Club (Saw) initiative. The activity aims at taking quality cinema to the genuine movie enthusiasts across the country in the unique setting of a bookstore. Therefore, as part of the on-ground move, the channel screens one movie every month for avid film buffs at Oxford Bookstore outlets across the five main metros (Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai).

Studio Nites, on the other hand, are evenings of ‘Karaoke‘, conducted at popular restaurants and clubs celebrating "music from the movies". Here patrons win prizes from the broadcaster for singing along to movie soundtracks.

For HBO, the key focus of the channel‘s marketing plan has been to bring the movie experience on-ground to create ‘audience engagement‘ through a mix of various media innovations.

Says HBO South Asia country manager Shruti Bajpai, "In past years, we have increased audience interaction with HBO Buzz. This is an HBO initiative to take HBO to the streets. We also created a talk value with Sex And The City pub nights and also did several on ground activities to promote our big upcoming mega blockbusters."

Supporting this view, UTV World Movies programming head Manasi Sapare notes that the broadcaster has adopted several strategies to create audience interaction beyond television.

Among other things the broadcaster screens 30 movies in eight metros. The venues range from multiplexes to bookstores and coffee shops. It has also partnered with several places including Alliance Française, NCPA, Mocha film club to screen world movies.

"Our UTV World Movies film club has already amassed 600,000 ardent cinema lovers across the country. We do activities here that include film appreciation classes, and know more about the director sessions on a regular basis," says Sapare.

Talking about WB fro the Turner stable and the latest addition to the genre, the channel conducted a marketing campaign supporting its launch that efficiently exploited the OOH as a media vehicle.

Turner International India vice president and deputy general manager - entertainment networks, South Asia Monica Tata explains that the campaign was targetted at Hollywood aficionados and was designed to evoke curiosity amongst the ardent Hollywood followers as it interweaved iconic dialogues and memorable moments of Warner Bros‘ films. The point was to instantaneously resonate and leave the audiences asking for more.

"Indoor branding renditions were put up in leading multiplexes and other vantage points across key metros," she elaborates.

Tata records that the campaign covered 50,000 sq.ft hoarding space, 20 million banner impressions and engagement at coffee shops, multiplex chains, DVD rental services, book stores, health clubs, branded lounges amongst others.

Furthermore, when it comes to marketing, new media also has a significant role to play notes Bajpai. "With online social networking emerging as the newest platform, we‘ve also focussed on engaging and interacting with the viewers with our pages on Facebook and Twitter. Recently, our innovative Facebook activity for the latest HBO Original series True Blood, was a huge talking point with our viewers."

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