Sapangeet Rajwant and the art of building Bigg Boss 14

Using TV and digital she wants to maintain the buzz that investments in different mediums did last

Bigg Boss is all set to return to the television with its season 14 starting 3 October 2020. The show commands a massive loyal audience that loves to watch the participants locked in the house. Every year, when it launches on the Hindi general entertainment channel, Colors, there is a lot of chatter around the show, its host - Salman Khan, the participants, politics, fun, fights and a lot of other things. There is no doubt that Bigg Boss  has been earning loyal sponsors and huge earned media year-on-year for the network. As a result, the teams at Viacom18 are putting their entire might to make it even more entertaining and exciting for the audiences. 

Viacom18 Hindi mass entertainment brand solutions, marketing & digital head Sapangeet Rajwant says, “Bigg Boss is one show that over the years has brought the viewers together and been the most sought after entertainment reality show. But the pandemic has bought a change in consumer sentiment wherein they’ve made a seamless transition to digital mediums. Digital is the most growing medium, I think marketing, therefore, will be redefined.  We would now look at investing in the right places to ensure the mediums we choose hereon are more effective and collaborative.”

Rajwant should know. She has been at the forefront of building the Bigg Boss brand over the years through effective promotions across media, right from print to on-ground to digital to television. Given that, the show is a tentpole high impact property for the Colors, no efforts are being spared to continue pushing and promoting just like in previous years. A major blitz with budgets at the same level as last year is planned.'s Shikha Singh got into a converation with the savvy marketer to get insights into what's planned for this season. Excerpts from the conversation:

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What is the marketing strategy for Bigg Boss this year?

Bigg Boss has a magnetic appeal for brands and marketers alike. Due to the huge fan following and the constant chatter that is there about the show, the brands look forward to associating with the show. The show because of its mass appeal is usually talked about on a daily basis. Hence from a marketing standpoint, the idea is to build the campaign and create conversations. This year though, we have tweaked our marketing strategy as owing to the pandemic there are a few mediums that have become redundant and therefore focus has been more on television and online. 

We are relying specifically on television heavily as it is one medium that has stood the test of time throughout this lockdown and the viewership has only grown in the past few months. Fortunately for us, Viacom18’s network channels have great strength and it provides us conversions across genres. We will also be going outside the network and tapping different news, movie, and music channels to create awareness about the tune in time of the show. We aim to generate a lot of content in the online space on social media and have planned innovations that you will witness soon. We will also look at tier 1 and tier 2 cities for print advertising in editorial format.

What was the thought behind the Bigg Boss campaign?

Bigg Boss is a cult show that has a massive and loyal following. The show has grown year-on-year and the last season of Bigg Boss broke viewership records both on television and online. The year 2020 has been the most trying and difficult year for humanity in the recent past.  Hence, we had to come up with a theme that could give a befitting response to 2020 and announce the return of the show- ‘Ab scene paltega, kyunki Bigg Boss dega 2020 ko jawaab’. With everyone looking eagerly towards the first rays of a restart and television being a surreal medium that helps you find an escape, the viewers will get a chance to witness things that they deprived of this year- A theater, spa, mall etc in the Bigg Boss house. It will be a peek into what a 'regular' life looks like. A welcome change to the past year; it's bound to change the scene in every household when it comes on their television sets.

Due to the pandemic the on-ground activities are halted, so how are you planning to engage with the viewers?

The lockdown has put restrictions on on-ground events and activations but on the other hand, we have also seen a surge in television viewership and digital platform consumption. We will be focusing our energies and investing in television and digital mediums for a greater ROI and measurability. A lot of programmatic buying happens on digital and on TV too and we will continue to do it.

Most importantly, is the marketing budget for Bigg Boss similar, increased or reduced as compared to the previous year?

We have not made budget cuts for our marketing but we are focusing on optimizing it. For the new season, we will be restricting the use of mediums but we will channelise our energies into planning creative engagement ideas. Rather than reaching out to five different mediums, we will probably stick to only one or two mediums but you will see heavier buzz and bigger innovation. We don’t want to compromise on the reach and frequency and that remains our focus.

How are you going to promote the show on TV?

When we look at the last few months, television is the only medium that has remained steady and it has been the biggest driver for all the broadcasters. It is the only medium that not only gives you the desired reach but also conversion and effectiveness for the campaign. Hence, television is going to be the primary medium in all the campaigns. As I have mentioned earlier,  Viacom18 has a huge network strength and it provides us with a large range of channels across genres and delivers higher conversions due to affinity. Having said that, we will also go to non-network channels to see where we get incremental audiences. We will be doing huge bursts of our promos across channels.

Coming to digital, what is your individual plan for each platform like Youtube, Facebook, Instagram? For example, are you looking at buying a mast-head on YouTube, or how you have partnered with AliveNow to launch an immersive Instagram AR filter for Bigg Boss? Will you be using the same technology this year?

The primary aim is to be innovative and engage with the audience across platforms and hence we have customized strategies for each platform. For example, Facebook and Instagram are more viable and have a large user base. We are planning to leverage all its features like polls, reels, Q&A, stories, IGTV, etc. to dish out short bursts of snackable content in fun and creative ways that encourage two-way communication and engagement. On the other hand, we are also planning a pure video consumption-led YouTube feature for longer video pieces like mashups, contestant journeys, music videos etc. However, there are also times when we may use both together for a live stream simulcast as well. On Twitter, sparking debates, holding celebrity AMAs, asking people’s opinions and engaging with fan clubs using exclusive content works the best.  So it’s all about continuously trying different approaches and we will be using each of them.

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Will you be collaborating with any influencers?

A show like Bigg Boss has such mass appeal that in every household, there will be at least one individual rooting for the show. In this case, in every household, there is an influencer and they help us drive conversations about the show. Having said that the contestants of the Bigg Boss from the last season or the contestants from the current season act as brand endorsers. Moreover, the fan clubs and viewer base can be equated to an influencer and they automatically generate a lot of hashtag and short format videos that help us drive our campaign.

Will you be using old Bigg Boss moments, winning spots or making of the show as a promotional strategy?

Definitely. Bigg Boss is one of the most popular reality TV properties with massive amounts of conversations, debates, and points of view being put across by fans and celebrities regularly. So yes, leveraging past moments is always a strong pillar of our digital campaign strategy and one that has always worked terrifically for us. Simply put, the show is about real people – and people identify and relate with it – making them extremely passionate about the show. Probably this is why you will see the show trend on Twitter organically almost daily when on-air.

IPL is doing heavy promotions across all platforms, whereas Bigg Boss has just started its marketing and promotional activity, how much do you think you will be able to make space for yourself in terms of creating buzz?

Both IPL and Bigg Boss are huge and most anticipated properties. Last year we reached out to some 213 million audiences on the back of just the announcement of the show. This year, when people are deprived of entertainment, there will be more people flocking in to watch the show. We have started the conversation of Bigg Boss from August and both the properties have their own fan base. Having said that, there will be a very minimal clash between both the properties as  Bigg Boss on weekdays starts at 10:30 pm and IPL starts at 7:30 pm making the overlap of only 10 per cent.

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