Looking inside MTV Nishedh, an initiative to break social stigma

MTV Nishedh will also be available on VOOT

MUMBAI: MTV is attempting to take the bull by its horns. With its new launch it aims to break the stigma around several health-related issues, make the youth aware about healthier social norms, talk about tabooed topics. The MTV Staying Alive Foundation has partnered with Viacom18 to bring a new campaign, “MTV Nishedh” to India. The campaign which has been adapted from The MTV Staying Alive Foundation’s multi-award-winning campaign ‘MTV Shuga', features a 13-episode fictional series.

MTV Nishedh, produced by Mumbai-based production company Victor Tango, will premiere on MTV India starting 25 January every Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 PM and on COLORS Rishtey starting 1 February, every Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 pm. While youth audience will be targeted through MTV, Colors Rishtey will bring the message to a wider audience. MTV Nishedh will also be available anytime on VOOT.

“The marketing budget will be skewed a little bit like this, but it will be based on what is required of the program. We will try and target the people whom we want to reach out to and therefore, we will use digital extensively,” Viacom 18 group CEO and MD Sudhanshu Vats said in a media roundtable while he was asked if marketing will be more digital-oriented.

“We have to see as we go forward, so I think it's important. So basically, depending on how the first one performs, depending on how savvy we are with everything, depending on how committed all our partners are. I'm very hopeful they will be but I think it's incorrect for me to say as of now," Vats commented on the possibility of a second season.

The MTV Staying Alive Foundation executive director and MTV Nishedh executive producer Georgia Arnold also explained how the research went on behind this project. Before starting off anything, they had a talk with the partners about the issues that partners are most concerned about. They also conducted a lot of formative researchs, and particularly in some of the key markets where they are trying to see a change. During focus group discussions with the youth,  they spoke about not only the issues but also about lifestyle. According to Arnold, all of these helped them to build a three dimensional picture of the audience that they are trying to reach.

Moreover, the key story outline was also shared with young people unlike traditional research. The focus group’s inputs were also incorporated in the script. After the filming was done, the entire series was shown to them. In a unique way, the conversations that came up from watching the series was turned into a teaching guide.

However, the social message will be delivered in an entertaining way to keep youth hooked to the show.

Viacom18 also promotes social messages through Colors shows as well. “For primetime Colors, our challenge as of now is the ability to mount a more finite series in because I think India is still not ready for that. Because what happens is our series start building up in six to eight weeks, which is 30 to 40 episodes, whereas some of these shows are only those many in total. So, that is the challenge we have because most of our finite series are 100 or 150 episodes,” Vats answered while he was asked if the approaches are different for MTV initiatives. 

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