When it's a campaign for game show, Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), awareness of the show's concept isn't a problem. For the show, launched almost a decade ago and currently getting ready for a fourth season, is a household concept in India, as is its host, superstar Amitabh Bachchan.
While the first season was hugely popular and broke viewership records of sorts, subsequent seasons while successful, didn't quite match up. The third season even had a change of host -- Shah Rukh Khan -- which generated mixed reactions from the junta.
To create buzz around the upcoming season -- and to popularise the fact that Sony Entertainment Television would be home to the show, as opposed to STAR Plus -- Leo Burnett has launched a four-phased campaign that hopes to bring the 'romance' back into the show.
Brand KBC has had a rather interesting journey. In KBC's first season, the campaign focused on two factors -- the huge prize money up for grabs, and the fact that India's biggest superstar, Amitabh Bachchan, would appear as a host on the small screen for the first time ever. As a result, one saw campaigns such as 'Ek crore mein kitne zero hote hain?' and 'Nau baj gaye kya?' to create hype around the show.
The third season had to announce a change of host, SRK. This was done with a fast- paced music track featuring the superstar, on how a single question could change your life; 'Ek sawaal jo aapki zindagi badal de' was the thought there.
The brief for the fourth season campaign was simple: as the show is popular enough and its basic format is familiar to most, the primary task would be to bring the magic back into the show, and to convey that the show is still relevant and engaging for viewers.
Research by Burnett showed that people are well aware of what KBC is; but they don't feel the same kind of excitement about it as earlier, even though there is a huge positive affinity towards the brand.
Four's the number
The fourth season campaign has been divided into four phases. The first phase, unleashed in July, played around with the popular KBC tune, with two promos. One showed Big B's silhouette at the KBC set whistling the tune, while the super read 'Coming soon on Sony'; another had him taking a walk down a picture gallery, whistling the same tune mysteriously.
The third phase comprises three commercials, including 'Akbar ka baap', an ad that has a child asking his father who was Mughal emperor Akbar's father, to which his dad laughs and gives him sarcastic answers (as he doesn't really know the answer himself). It reaches a point where the father is sitting on the hot seat at KBC, with Bachchan asking the man this very same question as part of the game. The embarrassed man, at a loss for words, looks helplessly towards his son sitting in the audience. "Koi bhi sawaal chhota nahi hota", advises Big B, as the KBC logo comes on.
Two more ads in the series would have similar situations of individuals mocking at simple questions, simply because they are ignorant of the answers; while Big B ends up asking them those very same questions on the hot seat.
Says Nitesh Tiwari, executive creative director, Leo Burnett India, that the campaign's tone is a page straight out of Amitabh Bachchan's persona; he is seen as a father figure, who is believable when he stresses on the importance of seeking knowledge.
"There is this saying in Hindi, 'koi bhi gyaan vyarth nahi jaata', or no kind of knowledge is wasted. We worked on this insight, while the creative idea was how the lack of knowledge you scoffed at could come back to haunt you when you need it the most," Tiwari says.
The films have been directed by Amit Sharma of Chrome Pictures. Some of the mnemonics associated with KBC have been retained as constants in the communication, including the theme music, the set, and the elegant clothing adorned by Bachchan - something viewers look forward to checking out. Outdoor and internet are other media that have been employed extensively.
Danish Khan, head, marketing, Sony Entertainment Television, remarks, "The social reality in India is that knowledge is placed at the highest pedestal in Indian homes. Even parents always encourage their children to learn more. That is how we chanced upon the 'knowledge is rewarding' idea." Obvious parameters, such as the not-so-novel format and the prize money were kept out of the communication, because people already know about them.
Four times better?
The campaign gets a thumbs-up from industry folk. According to Raj Kurup, founder and creative chairman, Creativeland Asia, "'Koi bhi sawaal chhota nahi hota' is a simple insight and 'Akbar ka baap' is an entertaining execution for the same. It would be quite redundant for a show of the stature and with the familiarity of KBC to focus on prize money to create pull."
Further, he says that KBC has been quite right in investing on ideas such as 'One question can change your life' or 'Don't underestimate any question', over the last couple of years.
To Jagdeep Kapoor, chairperson and managing director, Samsika Marketing Consultants, the romance had never gone out of KBC, and this campaign serves only to enhance the romance. "This effort takes KBC to a higher level, maybe even a shade better," he says.
Further, the strategy of all kinds of knowledge being rewarding, is, according to him, apt for a show of this level, and the touch of humour takes the mundane factor out of the communication, considering that the show's format isn't a novel one.