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Sony gives Rs 10 crore marketing push to Indian Idol Season 5

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | April 21, 2010
The singing talent hunt show will debut on Sony on April 26

The fifth season of the musical talent hunt show, Indian Idol, will debut on Sony on April 26. From a weekend offering in the last four seasons, the new edition will see Indian Idol becoming a weekday property. The show will be aired from Monday to Thursday at 9 pm.

Announcing the launch of the new season of Indian Idol, Man Jit Singh, chief executive officer, Multi Screen Media (MSM), says, "Indian Idol as a format and TV property has transcended cultures and succeeded in being popular over the years. In the USA, the show is in its ninth season and is as big as it was in its first season. The case in India, too, is similar. The last season of Indian Idol was seen by as many as 48 million people. This year, we are targeting to net in 50 million viewers for the show."

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NP Singh, chief operating officer, MSM called Indian Idol a power brand created by Sony in the past 15 years, which stands head and shoulders above a few other powerful brands created by the channel, which includes shows such as CID, Aahat, Boogie Woogie and Dus Ka Dum.

This year, the show is being produced by format co-owners Freemantle Media India and Wizcraft. Earlier, the show was being mounted by production house Miditech. However, with Freemantle Media setting up its India operations last year, the fifth edition of the show is being produced directly by the production house.

Listing the advantages of the show being produced by Freemantle Media India, Ajit Thakur, business head, Sony Entertainment Television (SET), says, "With Freemantle Media India taking over the reins of the show, we also get access to international expertise and technology at the disposal of the global production house Freemantle Media, which further adds to the quality of the show."

Indian Idol Season 5 is pitched against fiction shows on other general entertainment channels (GECs). According to Thakur, this has not been done with an intention of looking at competition in terms of fiction or non-fiction. Rather, Sony sees Indian Idol at prime time 9 pm as a unifier offering that has the power to bring the whole family together. Also, it makes sense to place the show on weekdays, when GECs attract more viewers in comparison to weekends.

The fifth season of Indian Idol is different from its last four editions in more than one ways. "The format of the show is interesting in itself, so we have left the DNA of the show untouched. However, this time, the show will be crisper and wrapped up in flat 16 weeks. Also, for the first time, the singing talent hunt will see the entry of mentors other than the judges. We will have big names such as Bappi Lahiri and Kailash Kher coming on the show and guiding the participants," shares Ajay Bhalwankar, programming head, SET.

The channel has managed to rope in seven sponsors for the show, including brands such as
Maruti Suzuki, Tata Docomo, Parle Agro, Amul, Nokia, Tata Motors and Piramal Pharma. According to sources close to the channel, for a 10 second ad spot on Indian Idol Season 5, Sony is charging Rs 2.5 lakh or more, which is up by 20 per cent in comparison to ad rates for the fourth season of the show.

It is also learnt that in promoting one of its biggest brands, Indian Idol, the channel is spending Rs 10 crore on the advertising and marketing campaign spread across HSM markets across the country. The cities covered as part of the three month long campaign include Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Indore, Bhopal, Jaipur, Lucknow, Kanpur, Pune and Nasik.

Talking about the marketing campaign, Danish Khan, head, marketing, SET, shares, "The promotional campaign for the show has been divided into three phases. The first phase focused on spreading news about the auditions in 41 cities across the country; the second phase is geared towards ensuring maximum sampling for the show; and the third round is focused on taking the brand experience called Indian Idol outside the TV for the audiences."

Khan adds that the focus this time is more on experiential marketing, as a part of which the channel has set up voting booths in places such as malls and multiplexes. Sony is also playing slides announcing the arrival of Indian Idol in cinema chains including PVR, Fame, Big Cinemas and Cinemax.

Besides, Sony is holding concerts in various cities, where shortlisted contestants are enthralling audience strengths in the range of 15,000-18,000. Bike trails have also been undertaken in places such as Shimla and Rohtak (in Haryana) to hunt for potential participants. The huge bike trails have been led by Anu Malik, one of the judges of the show. The other judges for this season are composer-singer Salim Merchant and singer Sunidhi Chauhan.

As part of the media plan, the initial burst of publicity for the auditions and the launch of the show is being given by heavy print advertising in publications including Dainik Bhaskar, Dainik Jagran, Lokmat, Times of India and Hindustan Times.

The channel has taken up almost 800 hoardings in 11 cities across the country. Radio Mirchi, the radio partner for Indian Idol Season 5, is further amplifying the reach of the singing talent hunt.

The fifth season of the show is being anchored by Abhijeet Sawant, the winner of the first season of Indian Idol, and Prajakta Shukre, one of the top five contestants of Indian Idol Season 1.

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