SMS initiatives dominate channels' Valentine's Day interactive plans

A major buzzword this Valentine weekend is SMS. Music channels have taken to this route in a big way for an event, which has over the years, turned into a huge commercial opportunity.

Channel [V] has teamed up with Idea Cellular for the Valentine Ka Pyaara Contest. To enter, the viewer has to send an SMS love message to 7827. The broadcaster‘s official Valentine‘s cupid couple, Purab and Kim, will do the rest and pick the winner. Cupid‘s own VJs will hitch 10 couples on a romantic valentine dinner date. One winner gets packed off to exotic Malaysia to party with his/her Valentine. To promote the contest, Kim and Purab who play Cupid in the promo, have been travelling across key markets, in a road show to generate excitement about this contest.

Speaking to about the logic behind SMS and gains expected to be made Channel [V] India head Amar Deb said, " The contest is a great example of how Channel [v] can effectively act as a platform for co-promotions with some of India‘s leading brands in a manner that creates great content and also effectively helps in effective communication and brand building for the partner brand who in this case is Idea."

Dwelling on the importance of SMS as a medium. Deb added, " At Channel [V], we try and integrate SMS into all our content, whether shows or response led activity such as contests, polls, etc. Another example is our innovation is our ringtones. We have launched a property with the specific purpose of brand intensification. It‘s called The Right Bottom. when a song plays on channel [v] a code appears on the"right bottom" of frame. sms the code to 7827 (star) and within seconds you‘ll have your favourite song as a ringtone. "

"SMS is now a tool that has become a tremendous response mechanism for all contests/content on Channel [V]. For contests that have quick deadlines and faster results, SMS acts as the best response mechanism. On one occasion, we had a speed based contest as part of The Chosen One campaign with Bon Jovi. Contest questions were scrolled on air across all the Bon Jovi content that month and viewers had to respond as fast as they could, only via SMS. When time and speed are of essence, SMS is the best option."

As far as tracking the responses are concerned, Deb said that the broadcaster has a specially dedicated department that manages all the wireless activity across the channel/network. They have some intense technical processes/equipment/software that helps them manage the various wireless databases. "The results definitely indicate that SMS has soon emerged to be the number one mode of response as there are enormous numbers of entries received via SMS each time a contest airs on Channel [V]. While emails too are extremely popular, SMSs have definitely made a dent in other modes of response."

B4U Music meanwhile has been hosting a Vote Valentine season this month. 150 all time great love songs both from here and abroad were short listed. The broadcaster has been showcasing them from 1 February. To cast their vote viewers can log onto or SMS VOTEVAL to 8888. The top 20 love songs will be showcased in a two hour special on 14 February. This Vote Valentine special is being brought by Parle Hide ‘n Seek and in association with Reliance India Mobile. At stake for winners are stay packages by the Usha Shriram Hotels in Simla, Manali, Mysore and Goa.

Etc will have the ubiquitous Mr. Prem answer viewer SMS messages on 3030. Viewers can ask him questions about the unique love emotion, requests, problems, poems for ones special Valentine. Prem Uncle will answer them 14 February.

As far as programme innovations are concerned, Deb added, "We came up with the whole concept of the Channel [v] Love Parade! It is a unique 24 hour love special featuring some of the world‘s and India‘s most cherished Love songs, making Channel [v] the ultimate destination of romance, love and sheer good heartedness this Valentines Day. [v] Crush also has a special Valentine‘s Day Episode.

ETC will air the special Nacho at 7:30 pm. Singers like Shaan, Babul Supriyo, Tarana, Bageshree, DJ Amit and DJ Tintin will belt out peppy love songs.

For the second year in a row, MTV will have its Asia awards bash on 14 February in Singapore. To build up awareness, the channel had its MTV Asia Awards bash for India last month. The theme naturally was love. The prizes included tickets to Singapore to watch the show and goodies from sponsors Toyota and Hewlett Packard.

On air, the channel will have a special, revolving around the movie Lakeer. This airs on 14 February at 11 am and 8 pm. The film stars among others Sunil Shetty and John Abraham, who will talk about the different aspects of love such as the first crush, first date.

Sony is incorporating the love theme in its show Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin on 12 February. Jassi showers the gang of secretaries with gifts and goodies. Meanwhile the clan of secretaries too have something special in store for Jassi. They have planned to gift Armaan a Valentine gift on behalf of Jassi. While Jassi is clueless about the entire thing, Armaan happens to open his gift and is stunned yet ecstatic to see a Jassi doll. While everyone is swapping Valentine gifts, Jassi is yet a little grim and sad, but her sadness is short-lived when Armaan has a Valentine gift for her too.

Arch rival Star Plus is taking a more direct approach. The broadcaster is having a contest where the viewers mail Valentine messages to popular characters Sujal and Kashish from the soap Kahiin To Hoga. The two best messages get a prize. This could be a dinner date with the stars or visit to the sets to meet the stars.

As far as story inserts are concerned, the episode of the sitcom Kichdi on 10 February on Star Plus saw the love theme set in. Parminder and Himanshu were guided together by Jayshree Bhabhi as a Valentine‘s Day gift from her. The other members of the Parekh family too have the lovers‘ welfare at heart and are doing their own bit of planning. The end result was sheer mayhem as more than one Parminder turns up. Actor and co-producer Jamnadas Majethia summed it up saying, "This is a comical way to celebrate Valentine Day."

Taking a different track is Hallmark. Its plans for Valentine‘s Day involve online greeting cards. Speaking to Hallmark Channel India, South Asia country manager Amitabh said, "We are running a micro site to promote Valentine‘s Day. We have conceptualised the Hallmark Channel Love Divine e-cards contest which is being promoted on MSN and on air.

"One simply has to send Hallmark Channel Love Divine e-cards to friends and loved ones. The more e-cards one sends the higher the chances of winning. At the end of the three winners will be chosen from a raffle. Winners stand to win a pair of His and Hers‘ gold plated watches along with a goodie bag from us. Besides India the Hallmark Channel Love Divine e-card Lucky Draw is open to viewers in Singapore and Malaysia."

Dwelling on the logic behind the unique stunt And what Hallmark was looking to gain, Amitabh said, "Celebrating Valentine‘s Day is significant to Hallmark Channel, as it is a ‘relationship‘ that needs to be celebrated. We wanted to do something thrilling especially at a time where E-cards hold sway. We thought it would be the best way to reach out to our viewers."

The most unique case of a story insert is Pogo. The love themes will feature animated characters Bugs Bunny and the irrepressible Pink Panther. Kicking things off is the Bugs Bunny Valentine Special. This airs on 14 February at noon. Elmer Fudd is hunting for love this season, as he plays the role of Cupid.

He aims his arrows and casts spells on some of Bugs Bunny‘s best friends. However, Bugs doesn‘t believe in cupid‘s powers. The story revolves around how the winged Elmer proves Bugs wrong by showing him a world of love." This will be followed by Pink at First Sight at 12:30 p.m. The cool Pink Panther works as a singing messenger on the day of love. Antics on the job entangle the breezy Panther with a jealous husband, vicious hounds, a sleek thief, and tough gangsters. Finally, our hero meets the ideal feline Valentine of his dreams, thus rounding out this fun-filled holiday special.

Zee Cinema has been doing innovative marketing spins around its movie festival Dil Deke Dekho. Under the band the channel has been airing romantic all-time-hits like Maine Pyar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak every night this month at 9 pm. A special Zee Cinema Dil Deke Dekho van has been moving across 60 to 70 cities in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Chandigarh and Kolkata. The van interacts with college students, bystanders and residential colonies and will be quizzing them on Bollywood movies.

Winners get mementos of Dil Deke Dekho. Zee Cinema‘s assistant VP marketing Prakash Ramchandani said that the broadcaster gets an average of 2500 people a day participating. The presence of curious bystanders adds to the visibility of the brand. Also Zee Cinema recently started actively using the outdoor medium to get the message across as well as print insertions. FCB Ulka has designed this. While there is no measurement system in place for the outdoor medium Ramchandani said that what works is a crisp visual at an impactful location. That is what the broadcaster was able to achieve he said. The broadcaster is also running a contest in association with Win just before the movie starts. VCDs are handed out as prizes.

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