While preparing for new shows on Zee TV - which are slated to hit the screen beginning August end as part of a claimed "relaunch" - the Network is working on other channels too. Among them is Zee English, which has met with a lukewarm response till date. Come September, Zee plans to give it a new push in the form of Brand Champs, the first India-specific programme.
"Advertising works. In two words, that is what the programme is all about," according to Partha Pratim Sinha, director, marketing, Zee Network "The programme will take successful (Indian) advertising case-studies, call both the client and the agency, and take viewers through the making and execution of the whole campaign," explains Sinha. "Why was the Pepsi or Fevicol campaign done, for instance, and how it worked." The launch date has not yet been decided, says Sinha, but indications are it will begin airing either end August or early September. Given the subject and the target audience, Zee has decided to air the 30-minute programme on Zee English on weekends.
Brand Champs comes almost three months after CNBC India began airing the Indian version of Storyboard. Incidentally, Brand Champs is being produced by TV18, one of the promoters of CNBC India. There is also talk that Dream Merchants, the pioneer among advertising shows in India, is also set for a relaunch. "We are planning to relaunch Dream Merchants on Zee News," says Sinha. "But the date and time have not been fixed."
Dream Merchants, a 30-minute look at the world of brands and advertising, was launched on Zee TV in 1994. It was discontinued in 1997 when producer Priya Singh Paul quit Zee to become an independent producer. "There were no specific reasons for its demise," recalls Paul, "but just that new programming people came in and they had their own views." She also adds that Zee did try resuming Dream Merchants in 1997 with HTA's Sunil Gupta anchoring it. But that did not hold on for long.
Paul is tight-lipped about its revival now. She does indicate though, that she received feelers from Zee TV to the effect. "It is a mother of all advertising programmes," she claims, while trying to differentiate it from a growing competition. "Does Storyboard look at brand ideas, marketing strategies? Does it bring in clients? Given that these programmes cater to highly creative people who get bored very soon, Dream Merchants tries to pack in a lot in every episode," she explains.
Unlike Dream Merchants, Brand Champs will stick to a case-study format in the entire 30 minutes. It will comprise three segments. One, the introduction of a new campaign. Two, discussion on the campaign by the client and his agency. Three, a panel discussion comprising experts. If that sounds too cerebral, Sinha is quick to dismiss such thoughts. "It format is simplicity, and we are trying to make it extremely entertaining," he promises. Explaining the rationale behind the show, Sinha says, "Advertising affects and interests everybody. But there is no single platform available where an intelligent viewer can know what goes on behind a successful campaign."
There may be a slight catch there. Case-study formats are quite appealing - to learners though - but there is always the problem of sourcing complete information, feels Meenakshi Madhvani, CEO, Carat Media Services India. She cites the example of the AdWorks Trophy instituted by the Ad Club of Mumbai, which seeks to award such work. "The number of entries is always limited because you hardly find clients willing to reveal all data pertaining to competition, pricing, and other such issues."
Sinha claims good response from both marketers and agencies. If it works, Brand Champs may give a much-needed boost to the fledgling Zee English. "It should become a perception driver for the channel," remarks Sinha. "We want it to create a buzz." It will be amply supported with channel promos and print ads.
Buzz is something that Zee English desperately needs. Niche channels like Zee English sell not on ratings but a mix of three factors - stickiness, quality of programming, and the buzz that they can create, explains Madhvani. "Zee English hasn't made an impact in terms of penetration and carriage still remains an issue. I don't see the show being too successful on such a niche channel," she opines. Madhvani does add that the channel has been trying to spruce up its programming quality and create hype through events like Miss Universe. "It is basically the serials that get some (viewer) interest," feels Madhvani. That's Friends, Suddenly Susan and the like.
And that's not all. Zee English has another one on the lines, and a big one at that - Seinfeld. It comes up by September.
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