In Punjab, things are hotting up.
Given the intense competition in the regional market, Lashkara and etc Punjabi, two of the main Punjabi channels, are gearing for yet another major battle. The key idea? Popularising the brand. The weapon of choice? 'Off-line' shows.
Lashkara is going ahead with beauty contests, and main rival, etc Punjabi, has been hitting the roads with a series of road shows. At the heart of such publicity stunts is a desperate need to create brand awareness in a shrinking advertising market, buffeted by a shrinking economy and political events. Despite this being the festive season, when the largest amount of money flows into the coffers of channels, the amount coming in, say industry sources, is much less than last year. Except for a few hit programmes, TV channels are struggling hard to sell their FCT - Free Commercial Time.
In such circumstances, it makes sense to push the brand, or at least, to let many people know that it exists. This is at the core of the marketing innovations that both etc and Lashkara have been doing for quite some time now. In June 2001, Lashkara hosted the Punjabi Music Awards, the first such awards for Punjabi artistes. And right now, the channel is planning to launch Miss Lashkara 2001. Promotional literature released by the channel has termed the show "the first ever Beauty Contest exclusively for Punjabis from Punjab and all over India."
From among 25 finalists chosen in the earlier rounds, Miss Lashkara will be chosen at Ludhiana in the first week of December. "An event like this is to create brand property," says Arvind Vinayak, head of marketing, Lashkara.
At the core of the strategy is an attempt to appeal to women audiences, in the age group 25-plus, and in socio-economic category A&B, who form, according to TAM and INTAM figures, a substantial chunk of Lashkara viewers. Some of Lashkara's popular serials such as "Amrita", "Kehar Singh Di Maut", and comedies such as "Kudiyan Jawan te Bapu Pareshaan", and the music-based "Raunkan" get TRPs ranging between 4 and 6, mainly among women in the evening prime time, the early afternoon slots and weekend slots. At the same time, by holding a beauty contest exclusively for Punjabis, the channel is aspiring to become the channel for Punjab.
etc, on its part, is banking on tie-ups with music companies. The channel has brought out eight music albums till now including Chak De Fatte 1 & 2 (both all-India chart-toppers), Tips Masti Hits, Pare Pare, Pakhiyan ve Pakhiyan and etc channel Punjabi hits. etc is hoping that these will help create brand awareness as well as bring in royalty money. Another innovation that the channel is trying out is stage shows every month - such as Jatta Aayi Baisakhi, Dhol Beat, Monsoon Mania, Highway Hungama, Bhatinda Blast. "These shows are a good awareness and business generation tool if executed well," says Rajiee M. Shinde, head of programming, etc Channel Punjabi.
The kind of audience that the channel commands - family audiences, who tend to be conservative, is evident in the kind of shows that the channel is going for. For example, last year the channel aired "Miss World Punjaban" with such events like a "Traditional Attire" round, and company officials hope that this, rather than the "skin showing," Miss Lashkara 2001, to quote one senior etc official, will wash with the audiences.
All said, at the end of the day, what would matter would be how far such shows or events are related to the core of the brand. Beauty contests have traditionally been sponsored by such "core" women products, such as Femina, for which the beauty contest is very much in line with the brand equity of Femina, and the kind of woman - new, modern, and in tune with the West - who reads the magazine. In fact, Femina was so successful in appropriating the property of modern Indian womanhood that today companies like Fa have queued up and put in the moolah just to be associated with the contest.
"The principle to understand is how closely related is any show or event to the core of the brand. The key to effective brand building is to first understand the core, and then to see that the event resonates with that core," says Kiran Khalap of the Mumbai-based Chlorophyll.
It remains to be seen whether Lashkara, by holding a beauty contest for Punjabis alone, and etc, by focussing on Punjabi music, can translate that into "core" branding.
© agencyfaqs! 2001