Sony goes in for a new look

As part of its revamp exercise, Sony Entertainment Television goes in for a new on-air look


At Sony, it's time for a whole new look.

The channel, which is facing troubled times, is unveiling a new channel packaging. The new on-air look was unveiled today, at 7 am. "The design that we are talking about is the packaging of the product. We needed to have an international look with an Indian ethos," says Kacon Sethi, executive vice-president, Sony Entertainment Television (SET). The revamp is part of the broader exercise, that Sony, buffeted by falling revenues, channel share, and advertising time sold, is undertaking. New formats, new genres, and new shows are in the pipeline.

The new design has been put together by a four-member team. Besides Sethi, the team comprises Prashant Sanwal from marketing, who has worked on Sony's second channel, MAX, Ayush Raina, head of on-air promotions for MAX, and Ashim Sen, head of on-air promotions for SET. It's for the first time that the channel, which goes for a new look every two years, has done its design from India.

The team pored over some 30 to 40 channels from across the world, and aimed at creating an overall feel of "youthfulness", a look that the design team contends is in tune with Sony's audience of adults and families, of 18 to 35 year olds. The "Blue Lady" which has almost become a mascot of the channel, has been retained, and colours have been used in tune with moods that she evokes. The team also went in for a "Day Part" strategy - that is, to convey the freshness of the morning, light blue was used for the morning band, and purple, which the team felt was a much more "feminine" colour, for the afternoon band, which is a women's preserve.

So how does the change in design fit in with the channel's plans to stage a comeback? Media analysts say that Sony is trying to ensure a strong No 2 position, and then make a bid for the top slot, where STAR has dug into. What makes the strategy viable is that Zee is now on the defensive. None of the 26 new programmes of Zee, launched after June 2001, when current group broadcasting CEO Sandeep Goyal took over, have made it to the Top 50.

Media planners aver the strategy of carpet-bombing TV audiences have, for all practical purposes, failed. From a channel share of 6.63 in January 2000, Zee is down to a channel share of 3.51 per cent in September 2001. It seems right now, Zee is left with no fall back option. As one senior media planner comments, "What happened is that Zee put everything in the same basket at one go. To recover, it will have to launch a whole new blitz. Sony, by doing things in stages, is not repeating the mistake that Zee made."

And it is this stage-by-stage process that is also behind the design strategy. "Programming or the content, and design and packaging are complimentary to each other. You cannot delineate the two. We wanted a good-looking channel," says Sethi.

Sethi's contention is backed by studies that show that many viewers, at least in a sub-conscious way, relate in a big way to how a channel looks besides what it contains. For example, the design team has used white - which is being used for the first time in India - to create a futuristic look, and feels that 'white' is a the trend will catch on. The makeover has been executed by Belief, a Hollywood based award winning design house.

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