UTV Stars walks the hall of fame in Mumbai

By Anindita Sarkar , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | November 28, 2011
As part of the initiative, hand impressions of living Bollywood stars will be embossed on brass plates and laid on tiles along the path.

In a bid to extend its brand image of "Touch, Feel, Believe" beyond television screens, UTV Stars, the newly-launched channel from the UTV stable that positions itself as the 'official channel of Bollywood', has decided to get the 'Walk of Fame' to India.

Inspired by the Hollywood Walk of Fame (that attracts about 10 million visitors annually), UTV Stars has joined hands with the Bandra Bandstand Residents Trust (BBRT) to create a Bollywood Walk of Fame across a two kilometre stretch along the Bandra Bandstand promenade (in Mumbai).

As part of the initiative, hand impressions of living Bollywood stars will be embossed on brass plates and laid on tiles along the path, with UTV Stars' branding will also be visible through lamp posts, billboards and out of home furniture. The project will be initiated with 60 names of Bollywood superstars featured along the Walk of Fame, through the month of January, in 2012.

Talking about the new project to afaqs!, Nikhil Gandhi, business head, UTV Stars, says, "We wanted to create something that could resonate with our channel brand and establish our brand further with the audiences. UTV Stars Walk of Fame personifies that brand extension. We believe that the move will help us strengthen our positioning in Bollywood trade, audience viewership, and advertising value, and establish the brand even better within the genre."

When quizzed as to why Bandstand has been chosen as the location to set up the Bollywood walk path, Gandhi explains that it makes sense as the place is centrally located, and visited by people regularly. The sea, too, is close by.

"And, while it is expected to create a lot of buzz for UTV Stars, it will also help in the beautification of the area and encourage tourism," he adds.

So, does this project really have the potential to generate the right brand buzz for UTV Stars?

Media experts believe that the project can be an "interesting move" in creating brand buzz, since it will generate a lot of initial curiosity.

"In a film-crazy nation like India, the Walk of Fame can be a huge attraction for small town audiences, and establish an emotional connect. Mumbai can pull in tourists across the country through this. However, though a logical brand extension by UTV Stars, the move is too generic. So, only after witnessing how the channel exploits the property, can we measure the output," says Amit Ray, former president, Lintas Media Group.

Meanwhile, expressing apprehension for the project, Nabendu Bhattacharyya, founder and managing director, Milestone Brandcom, says, "While the move will create an initial novelty value, it will soon become stale for the regular consumers who will lose interest if new routes of engagement and interactivity are not created for them around the property."

According to industry estimates, the project is expected to see an initial investment of Rs 10-15 lakh in the first year.

Conceptualised by UTV Stars, the Walk of Fame project will initially look at a five-year horizon period which will be later renewed by the Bombay Municipal Corporation for maintaining the Walk of Fame, depending upon its performance amongst the celebrities, tourists, and of course, its translation into brand stickiness.

For the record, The Hollywood Walk of Fame consists of more than 2,400 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along fifteen blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California. The stars are permanent public monuments to achievement in the entertainment industry, bearing the names of a mix of actors, musicians, directors, producers, musical and theatrical groups, fictional characters, and others. The Walk of Fame is administered by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and maintained by the self-financing Hollywood Historic Trust.

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