MTV and VH1 go commercial free on Independence Day

By Neha Kalra , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | August 18, 2008
Nokia got the best out of the deal as it sponsored all 24 hours of this non-commercial day on both channels

History & #BANNER1 & # repeats itself, but in different forms. While Vodafone booked ad slots across 13 channels for an entire day, MTV and VH1 were off commercials for an entire day - on August 15, India's Independence Day.

For 24 hours, from 12 midnight of August 14 till 12 midnight of August 15, both MTV and VH1 did not air commercials. Instead, both channels telecast specially designed content that day. MTV used the vox populi format, as young India spoke on what freedom means to them. VH1, on the other hand, showcased names such as Indus Creed, Pentagram and Parikrama from the music world. Both initiatives were sponsored by Nokia.

Deepak Lamba, director, Viacom Brand Solutions, says, "It's only 17 hours a day which bring in viewership from the country, not 24 hours. About compromising on the ad slots, it was a special day, so we wished to do something special. Advertisers are informed a month in advance about logging off ad spots for a day, and this case was no different. It is made good for across other days. "

Nokia, which had tied up with Viacom Brand Solutions (VBS) was seeking to build an imagery for the launch of its new N Series mobile, the N96. VBS prepared some special 10 second creatives around the product and its features. For example, if Internet access on the phone was to be highlighted, a 10 seconder was put in place, bringing this feature and the spirit of freedom together, talking about the freedom to explore the Web.

Lamba feels the attempt was beneficial for Nokia because the brand got a clutter free environment to showcase its product. There are around 11,000 seconds of ad slots in a day, which are usually distributed amongst numerous brands, but in this case, Nokia had the entire day's ad slots to itself.

The national anthem was given a rock tweak by VBS. But Lamba clarifies, "This was not done to trivialise the national anthem in any way."

This is not a first in the history of MTV. The channel has aired exclusive content for an entire day (though not commercial free) earlier as well. In September 2004, when Yash Raj Films' music label was being launched, the film production house tied up with MTV to air exclusive content related to the Yash Raj Films banner for the entire day.

On August 15, 2005, the entire day was given over to the Aamir Khan starring film, The Rising, which was based on the life of Mangal Pandey, one of the country's earliest freedom fighters.

Viacom Brand Solutions is a part of Viacom18, the 50:50 joint venture between Viacom Inc. and Network18, offers customised and integrated marketing solutions for brands to connect with MTV's viewers in an innovative and out of the box fashion.