Cell 18 gets into television production

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | May 13, 2009
Cell 18 is now an independent division and has diversified its portfolio

Last year, a new division was formed under The Cell, which is Network 18's creative hub. Christened Cell 18, this division was formed with the mandate to work for clients outside the Network 18 group. As a result, it became an independent division with a separate P&L function. The Cell, with a work force of 130 people, remains the umbrella brand with nine other verticals servicing the Network 18 brands, of which Cell 18 is a part.

Cell 18 currently has expertise in designing promos, brand films, creative and post production. Following the re-christening, the first project undertaken by the company was the re-packaging for Zee Network's Hindi movie channel, Zee Cinema.

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"It was a massive re-branding and re-packaging exercise for the channel. We shot a whole new identity for them," says Zubin Driver, chief executive officer, Cell 18. The outfit has undertaken re-designing work for three Telugu channels and other broadcasters such as Zee Cinema and Zee Bangla.

The challenge is to understand and create an environment that represents the channel and appeals to the viewers. "One has to look at the channel, the competitive space and the target audience. For example, in the Telugu market, everything is over-the-top, while for CNBC, it is subtle and understated," he explains.

Cell 18 has three pitches in the pipeline and hopes to pick up at least four-five new projects by the next quarter. Besides, Cell 18 is creating ad films for brands such as Nokia, Airtel, Servo and Godrej. The company also created the marketing campaign for Prahar, the Marathi magazine.

However, the big thing now is that this division will produce long form content for television channels, a proposition that the company has been toying with since the last quarter. "We have bagged our first long form content project for ETV Marathi. We are doing a Marathi comedy show for them. We will look at this segment very aggressively," Driver adds.

Cell 18 will foray into multi-lingual and multi-genre productions. The fact that there are numerous small and medium TV software outfits doesn't deter him. "The game is going to be about how clutter-breaking the ideas are and not so much about the execution. The execution is replicable; what is not replicable is the creative. Our strategy will be entirely IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) and creative led," he states.

The division has about 15 pitches in the market and aims to have five-six projects under production this year. Driver believes that the long form content production and ad films are where the growth will come from. However, he wants the division to be known as a large creative power house and a total solutions outfit. The outfit is also eyeing the international market and pitching for international clients.

Cell 18 clocked total revenue of about Rs 6.5 crore last year through the various projects and aims to double the amount by next year. However, most importantly, what Driver aims to achieve is 'creative excellence'.