afaqs!

UTV Action scales new 'heights'

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Cape Town (South Africa) | In Advertising | February 09, 2010
A bunch of Indians let go of all inhibitions and sky dived over Cape Town in an innovative promotion by the new action based channel

UTV Action, the action channel from the UTV group, decided to give trade associates a taste of what it stands for only a few weeks into its launch. We're talking about 'Adventure. Adrenalin. Action'!

So what did it do? White water rafting? No. Para gliding? Wrong again! Bungee jumping? Not even that! Think higher. Think Skydiving!

& #BANNER1 & #

A group of a little over 30 people, who work in corporate offices all day, came pouring out of the sky in scenic South Africa on February 5 at a sky dive zone on the outskirts of the picturesque Cape Town. These were not people who are crazy adventure junkies with tanned sun-withered skin and beefy biceps, riding motorcycles - but regular, ordinary people like you and me. In fact, I was one of them. We had the privilege of jumping out of a tiny rattling aircraft crammed with individuals, climbing heights only the mentally deranged would not be scared of!

As tandem instructors opened the 'shutter' of a door and asked us to put our legs outside the plane, a million thoughts ran through the mind - and then, suddenly, nothing. You jump. It's you out there facing Mother Nature in all her glory.

Interestingly, the entire group that went to the drop zone did the jump, with not a single person backing out. What does this say about the human spirit? These people surrendered to the adventurous spirit lurking inside them. They pushed boundaries, pushed away fear, stretched out arms to welcome the zipping, whirring wind as it raced past them after the jump.

Some leaped for the adrenalin rush, some to conquer their fears, some to make their spouses, kids or parents feel proud, some didn't even tell families they were going to jump. However, they all did. In a way, for all of us, the jump represented one thing and that was 'letting go'. Letting go of inhibitions and fears and just doing it - plummeting 13,000 feet to the ground below. While no one will be able to perfectly describe what we felt, some tried:

"I just knew I had to let go. It was binary, I either live or die after that," says Suvodeep Das, head, marketing, Kaya Skin Clinic, with a confident smile. Das, incidentally, was the first jumper of the day and thus had no reference point.

Vandana Ramkrishna, deputy general manager, Madison Media, says emphatically, "Skydiving for me was the equivalent of committing suicide! But the experience was truly out of this world."

Arvind Singhal, director, marketing and PR, McDonald's, reiterates her thoughts, saying, "I've done some adventure sports before but this was something else."

Nishant Nair, manager, media, Paras Pharmaceuticals relives the moment he jumped and says, "It is something I will remember for the rest of my life. Not just me - I think my close friends and family will remember it also and every time they discuss skydiving, they will remember that I did it. That gives you such a high."

Discussing the fit between the channel's characteristics and the experience, Vinish Mathews, associate media director, TME (Rediffusion Y&R group), says, "Usually, channels launch with a big party or a large bash with celebrities making appearances. UTV Action, being from the UTV stable, would have been able to get celebrities easily to a launch party. Instead, it chose to do something offbeat and something that truly demonstrates its core offering. I think this was a perfect brand fit."

The idea for such an adventure came from MK Anand, chief executive officer, UTV Global Broadcasting, along with Kunal Mukherjee, associate vice-president, marketing, UTV Action and his team, which made it happen. Mukherjee says, "I think with an adventure like this, many of us in a way crossed a threshold in our lives. We conquered our fear. I even overheard people after the jump saying, 'Ok, what's scarier than skydiving, now let's do that!'"

Kamalinee Chatterjee, region head, West, UTV Action, adds, "It's that time when overseas budgets have been cut for international conferences. However, UTV took a decision to synergise the brand image with a sport like skydiving."

Sharing her personal experience, she says, "Skydiving was definitely the highlight of the trip and I, being afraid of heights, was among the few who said 'no' to it at first but eventually, did it and I'm so glad I did. The team from Wanderers (the travel company that handled the tour) played a big role in convincing me to do it."

She adds that similar events and promotions around the channel are also in the pipeline.

The channel has already tied up with Red Bull for a street style football event that will take place in three cities later this month. The event will showcase football dribbling and balancing skills and is scheduled to take place in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi. Another activity includes an activation by sending out boxing gloves to trade associates.

"There's going to be a lot more 'action' by the channel. This is just the tip of the iceberg," beams Chatterjee.