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Zee South biz head Prabhakaran says: "Growth trajectory is our focus"

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Zee Tamil, a Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (Zeel) Tamil channel, today unveiled a new brand logo during the launch of the Tamil edition of ZEEL's homegrown reality musical show – Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. The previous season of the Tamil edition was Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs, the current edition is for seniors. 

A new daily weekday fiction show is set for launch tomorrow. Earlier this month the channel had announced two new fiction showsDevathaiyai Kandean and Niram Maaratha Pookal that went on air on 9 October in the 130pm and 2pm time slots.

The channel has also announced a south Indian films female actor as brand ambassador in Jyothika.  An HD Tamil channel will also be launched on 16 October. Zee Tamil was launched in 2008. Earlier, along with the corporate branding changes across the channels under Zeel, Zee Tamil's logo also underwent a change.

Siju Prabhakaran is Zeel cluster head – South Business and executive vice president. He has been associated with the brand for over seventeen years during which he has held several roles and responsibilities. As the cluster head for the South Business, Siju is responsible for Zee Tamil, Zee Kannada, Zee Telugu and Zee Cinemalu. In his current position, he plays a significant role in driving the business growth of the South Cluster by strategizing for the profit and loss in these markets.

Siju spoke with The Indian Television Group’s Tarachand Wanvari and shared details and thoughts about the new branding, the way forward for Zee Tamil, the audience demographics of Tamil Nadu, etc.. Excerpts of the interaction:

What is the reason for the brand change?

Zee Tamil is in the process of a beautiful change. Change is the only constant. Actually, when we took this journey two years back, we saw the growth that Zee Tamil has been witnessing in the last 15 to 16 months. Our consumer study showed that there is a need for change – from a viewer point of view.

After an extensive consumer exercise and study we at Zee Tamil understood that one of the key challenges for today’s woman in Tamil Nadu is the ever growing need to progress with times and take the leap but also her innate belief in preserving her traditions and values. This becomes even pronounced between different generations, where striking a balance and finding the means to do it becomes her guardrail.

Building on this consumer sentiment and  with the objective of giving our audiences inspiring sparks that will help them strike the balance between preservation and progress and then thrive in it, the channel has revealed its new brand proposition, “Manadhaal Inaivom, Maatrathai Varaverppom” which translates “let’s bridge hearts, and welcome change”.

What are the steps that you intend to take during or for the brand refresh process?

As a part of the brand refresh, we have come up with a brand film – basically a TVC. The new brand logo will be launched on the 15th of October at around 2000 hours, on our flagship show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa.  The unveiling of the brand logo would take place with the entire family of Zee Tamil artists which would be a part of this. At the same time, the marketing campaign across all platforms will roll out. On the 16th, we are also launching a new show called Sembarathi which will air at 2100 hours. Just last week, we had the launch of 2 afternoon fiction shows in the afternoon band. There is a combination of new content offering and the entire brand campaign. We are also extending an HD channel to our viewers which will be available across all platforms from the 16th of October which is also a part of the brand refresh.

Please elaborate about the brand refresh marketing campaign. What kind of spends will you make? How many TVCs, hoardings, ads? Who is handling the creatives for the campaign?

Lowe is our new creative agency. The TVC has been shot by the national award winning director Sudha of the Saala Khadoos fame . Our in-house team has also played a part in the execution. Two TVCs’ of 90 seconds each will be shared on our network – Zee Tamil and other TV and news channels. We have an extensive print and digital and outdoor campaign across Tamil Nadu.

As I said, the campaign will start on television on the night of 15th October, on our flagship show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa when the unveiling of the logo will take place. On 16th, the outdoors and print will start rolling out. This will be backed by on-ground activities, and the campaign will run for about four to six weeks.

Through this campaign, we want to have maximum impact. It is not a regular campaign. Since we have a great brand ambassador – we also want to leverage on that. We are backing the brand proposition with great content. The campaign will be a 360 degree one – we plan to use all mediums for the new brand message. I don’t have the details of the exact number of the hoardings, but there will be a number of them across all major cities and towns in Tamil Nadu.

I can’t share spend numbers, but I assure you that our spends will be substantial – about three to four times more than the amount that we spend on the launch of a regular campaign.

Could you explain the new logo? What does it mean? You had changed your logo earlier when your corporate branding changed ….

The entire logo showcases radiance and positive energy and that is where the colours have come from. Each market will have its own unique extension of the main corporate brand – with its regional inspiration. This Zee Tamil change is a part of that whole activity on the channel. When the Zee Corporate logo had changed, of course, Zee Tamil’s logo had also changed.

What about the HD channel? In an analogue market such as Tamil Nadu?

Tamil Nadu is a market with a huge DTH penetration, even though it is largely still an analogue market, but DTH has been able to make a good entry into it. As a commitment to adding value to our consumer, HD is a natural fitment. Offering HD with our investment in movies and growth plans, it is a natural extension that we 

How about advertisers?

There has been a good increase in the advertising segment. Tamil Nadu is a good market for advertisers. The brand campaign will see a huge value for the advertisers; we are also partnering with a few advertisers on this campaign. The advertiser value proposition is something which is a key focus of the brand campaign.

You mentioned movies. What are your plans for movie acquisitions in a market such as Tamil Nadu that is driven by films?

There is a legacy advantage that leaders and first movers in the market have had. But as a group, our commitment to movies across markets is constant. This year – we have acquired rights for Rajanikanth’s 2.0 across markets and Vijay’s Mersal which is a Diwali release.

Zee Tamil is generally ranked third or fourth with Sun TV topping, followed by KTV and Star Vijay according to BARC data. How has Zee Tamil changed in terms of market viewership with respect to the competition? Star Vijay has seen growth in numbers with Bigg Boss and Kamlahasan…

Zee Tamil is the fastest growing channel in terms of viewership for the past couple of years. To put it in the proper perspective - Sun obviously is the leading channel. And it leads not only in the Tamil market, but also on an all-India level. KTV only showcases movies – so it does not come under the GEC market for Chennai. So the ranking would be 1 – Sun TV, 2 – Vijay TV, 3- Zee Tamil.

Around two years ago, Zee Tamil was at a five percent market share. Currently, we are at a 15 percent market share. We have had a tremendous growth. We were at a number two position in the market for almost 30 weeks, beating Star Vijay about five months back. The whole idea behind the campaign is to drive the next level of growth.

Yes, Bigg Boss has been a great win for Star Vijay because it brought in new audiences that were earlier not present and that also helped its other programs.

Could you tell us about Tamil audiences in general? Is Tamil Nadu also a youth driven market?

Tamil Nadu is the largest regional market in the country. This is a market with great TV penetration – about 95 to 96 percent, high literacy rate, great urban and rural divide, a great market for advertisers. There has been a great growth in the market. When we grow, we grow at the expense of somebody else, similarly, the other channels are also growing at the expense of others. But the market is at the cusp of a huge market change. And with all the content initiatives, growth is something on the cards.

If you look at the classification of the audience, there is definitely a young population which is consuming the television market and the reason for the content initiatives in the non-fiction space is a testimony that young people are interested towards this; the only thing is that they don’t want monotonous content. They want something that is new and of a smaller duration which is reflective all over the nation.

What are your plans for the future?

Growth trajectory is our focus. With the campaign, we want to strengthen our position in the market and look at offering something new and up the content offering across all genres including fiction and non-fiction. Digital is something that we are working on for upping our game. Zee Tamil is well connected across all cable and digital platforms. We have our content available on Ozee – which is going to be Z5. We have a good viewership base there, which is something that we are looking to build.

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