Bigg Boss 14: The brand countdown has begun

Mahesh Shetty says there is no other better brand integration platform than Bigg Boss.

MUMBAI: A century. That’s what Viacom18 head of network sales Mahesh Shetty is hoping to hit with the fourteenth edition of celebrity reality show Bigg Boss. “It will be great if we manage to hit last year’s 100 advertiser landmark we did with the show,” says Shetty.

Recently, the sales team once again signed on Capital Foods Ching’s Secret as an associate sponsor for the show. It already has e-sports and mobile gaming league platform MPL as presenting sponsor, while Dabur Dant Rakshak Ayurvedic Paste and HUL’s Tresseme have come on as co-powered by sponsors.

It looks like Shetty has his work cut out for him with only around a fortnight to go before the show starts filming in Mumbai’s Film City on 3 October. However, he is confident that the sponsorship and advertising contracts will start rolling in faster now.

Says he: “It’s not that this is the first time the team that is selling Bigg Boss is facing environmental pressure. At some point of time there was demonetization followed by GST, which created huge pressure on the economy. The feedback that we got from brands who wanted to associate with us has been phenomenal. I'll give the credit to the equity of Bigg Boss and to my team also.. I am very optimistic about this season as well. We are expecting the same traction this year itself.”

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He further explains why he is not worried. Says Shetty: “There are certain brands who come on board for the entire season while others come only for half-season. Some of our key brands have been associated with us since the last season. We have 106 episodes, so there are many brands who wish to come in the later part of the show. Apart from that a lot of revenue comes from the Free Commercial Times (FCT).”

He has no regrets that he has pegged the advertising and sponsorship rates at least year’s levels when Star Sports has managed to command higher pricing for its IPL inventory than last year. Explains Shetty: “It is not a short-term relationship as some brands also come back. We have kept similar rates as last year because Bigg Boss is a 106-day property. At the end of the day, it is a demand-supply game.“

He is hopeful that Bigg Boss this year will be able to command higher sticker prices than the Rs 300,000-350,000 per 10 second spot that it did last year. “Depending on how the property performs and demand-supply it creates, we will look at increasing the prices. When the show starts and if the demand is very good, we will definitely hike the prices,” he says.

Shetty’s opinion is that very platforms can offer the brand integration that Bigg Boss does.”I don't think there is any property like Bigg Boss when it comes to brand integration and brand engagement. The show not only gives them a wide visibility and reach, but helps them connect with the end consumer,” says he. “We engage very deeply with brand owners, and not just with the agency. Every integration of ours is something that we kind of take them through, also at the same time our programming team, people who run the show are very well equipped and experienced.

Shetty points out to how last year presenting sponsor Vivo used the platform to showcase the video features of its brand new phone the V17 Pro. For Dabur, the programming team innovated by enrolling contestants of season 13 - Shehnaz Gill, Madhurima Tuli, Rashmi Desai, Mahira Sharma, and Shefali Bagga to promote Dabur Amla Hair Oil while walking the ramp after they were tasked by Salman Khan to do so. Shefali Zairwala and Aarti Singh became the hair stylists for the ramp walkers. Siddharth Shukla, the ultimate winner of the season, and Asim were the judges and chose Shehnaz Gill as the winner. “Again, it was very entertaining and brands’ core values got communicated. It is something you will see again this year,” says Shetty.

He is quite emphatic that advertisers will hitch themselves to the Bigg Boss bandwagon. “Today, if there is so much traction for IPL, it is because there isn't anything like IPL. In the same way, I would say there is nothing really like Bigg Boss. It's not just another property,” he says. “It starts on 3 October goes on all the way till January 2021. It covers all the key festivals from Dussehra to Diwali, Christmas, New Year, and Sankranti. In terms of consumer spending, this entire period is a big chunk as far as consumer spending goes. So brands would want to latch upon the properties like Bigg Boss.

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