MUMBAI: “Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.” –Ansel Adams
Adams, who is popular for his heart-touching photography the world over, in these two lines, has best described the art of photography – the perception of which can change from individual to individual and only those with a keen interest and passion can bring out the best in the art.
While there are numerous talent shows on music and dance, one on photography is something really rare. One such show is National Geographic Channel’s Mission Cover Shot produced by Colosceum Media that won many accolades from the industry when its first edition was telecast last year. Set to enter its second season, the show has become bigger and better.
While last year, with eight contestants passionate for photography, it covered the beautiful locales of Sri Lanka, this time the team wanted to tap a picturesque, unexplored local region. A place that is visually captivating, extremely rich in cultural diversities, extends a strong streak of adventure through its diverse terrains and naturally enhances the competitive quotient in the show by all that it has to offer to the aspiring photographers. And thus the team zeroed in on the North East.
“While selecting the location for Cover Shot, one needs to understand, that it is almost like selecting a canvas. The venue practically sets the tone and context of the entire season, let alone the actual photographs. Hence it is but natural that the travel destination gets showcased in all its glory. Sri Lanka worked spectacularly for us, and so will north east,” says National Geographic and FOX International Channels VP Marketing, Debarpita Banerjee.
Besides the new location, there’s not much change in the format of the show. Banerjee says, “Since the show had done well for us in the first season, the format broadly remains the same. However, this year, the competition between the contestants is way tougher and each one has a strategy to get the perfect shot. As a result of this competitive spirit, the show will have interesting snacky fodder for all reality television addicts and hence, will appeal to viewers beyond the infotainment genre.”
While in the first edition, filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor and award winning American photographer Ami Vitale judged the eight contestants, this year the judges include Rajiv Laxman and photographer Lana Šlezic. The number of contestants has also gone up to 10 this time.
Rajiv says that the most fascinating part of the show is shooting it. “To get the frontal view of the contestants, my camera people had to be in front. At the same time whatever the contestants were shooting also needed to be captured and thus it was an interesting as well as challenging process,” says Rajiv, who thinks that the show is a good platform for people who are interested in photography as once getting the exposure on the show and with guidance from international photographers the skills improve.
The first edition of the show was extremely successful. However, it wasn’t easy to convince people to come on board, be it the advertisers or the judges. “Explaining a new concept, without mainline celebrities, is always tough. But three things worked very well for Cover Shot – the fact that it is youthful, the fact that it is based on the very popular obsession called photography and the fact that it is in a reality format. Which is why, lots of brands that find relevance in the above three came on board. This year too we are expecting many such associations,” says Banerjee, also talking about the three sponsors on board last year – HTC as presenting sponsor who was also given in-show mileage; Aircel as the powered by sponsor and Cinnamon hotels as the associate sponsor.
“We are expecting a good response from the advertisers this season as well, since the first one did really well, earning us the most commended reality TV show at the Asian television awards 2013. We have already pitched it to more than 10 brands for association and will soon have them on board,” she adds.
Unlike the last season when Cinnamon hotels became the hospitality partner, this time there are none. However, the team says that they got immense support from The Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region, North-East India.
The focus of this year’s campaign is very contestant-driven and highlights the promise of whatever it takes to get that perfect shot to get to the cover page of Nat Geo Traveller. NGC’s in-house On-Air Promo team has aptly designed the promos keeping this premise in mind. Hence, one could look forward to a campaign that will exude stylish, contemporary, grungy, aggressive, adventurous and reality-led communication.
Since the show is about breathtaking photography, photo exhibition is one of the most important promotional strategies. Other strategies include making the brand a part of the show by showing usage of the product in show. “Something that we did with HTC on Mission Cover Shot by making use of the phone as part of a task and since some stake-holders these days are wanting to do more and more on the digital space, we have different associations for them on our FB page along with other online strategies,” says Banerjee.
Nat Geo Covershot: Mission North East will be launching on 11 April, Friday at 10 pm, which the channel says is one of its strongest slot. The winning shot will still be featured on the cover page of Nat Geo Traveller.