Chhota Bheem in Shemrock

By Raushni Bhagia , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | May 22, 2013
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The popular cartoon character will be Shemrock's brand ambassador for three years.

The bare-chested home grown animated superhero with the amazing dance moves has partnered a range of brands, from McDonald's and Del Monte Ketchup to the Indian Premier League (in its sixth season). Now, the dhoti-clad cartoon character is all set to be enrolled in a school.

Amol Arora

The Shemrock Group of schools, which has more than 225 branches of play schools (Shemrock) and 75 branches of senior secondary schools (Shemford), has adopted Chhota Bheem as its brand ambassador for three years. All the corporate communication of the group will feature Chhota Bheem in it, while the franchises will also sport the character in their communication.

Starting with the annual function of 2012-13, where all the schools of the chain chose the Chhota Bheem theme for their events, the group has already planned a year of events centred on the cartoon character. This included the Chhota Bheem Summer Camp, which started in mid-May and will go on for about a month. Following these will be Chhota Bheem Friendships' day, when kids will be asked to bring their best friends to school; Chhota Bheem Baby Show; Chhota Bheem Children's fair, which is an annual kids' festival in the school, this time bearing the cartoon's name and a parents' orientation programme.

While Chhota Bheem is popular among kids, the purchase decision (in this case, admission) lies entirely with the parents. How does the brand plan to ensure business from the choice of its brand ambassador?

Amol Arora, vice-chairman and managing director, Shemrock and Shemford group of schools, explains that this move will provide the sampling for the parents. "While the infrastructure and teaching quality decides the school for any kid, it must not be forgotten that at the time of admission, every parent asks the child, 'Did you like the school that you visited today?' We are confident about the quality of education and values that the children take away from Shemrock. Chhota Bheem will be a potential filter to help us stand away from the clutter."

Refusing to mention the financial details of the deal, Arora says that the group expects to recover the costs in about nine months.

Apart from an extensive marketing campaign (to run between June and mid-July), the chain is all set to exploit the popularity of the character. The summer camp includes Kaliya Stay Healthy Stay fit classes, Chhutki Cooking Classes and Chhota Bheem Personality courses, amongst others. A few franchises in Delhi, Dehradun, Ghaziabad, Rajasthan and Ambala have already applied the new cartoon character touch to the school premises, with branded signboards. Arora, however, adds that the books and curriculum will be strictly out of the branding exercise. He says, "The books and the course will never feature the character."

Apart from on-ground activations, the marketing campaign will include television commercials, print advertisements and co-branded fan pages on social media. This will be the first time that the brand will run television commercials, which are being conceptualised by independent consultant Pankaj Gajwani. The TVCs will be designed by the in-house animation team. The films will run on Cartoon Network and Pogo.

The print campaign will be spread across national dailies such as Times of India, Hindustan Times, Mail Today, Dainik Jagran and Punjab Kesari, since the group has many branches in northern India.

Apart from this, there are about eight Shemford branches in Tamil Nadu and a few Shemrock schools in other southern states; keeping this in mind, the brand will also advertise in Hindu and other regional publications.

Along with Chhota Bheem, other cartoon characters of the series such as Chutki, Raju, Jaggu, Kalia, Dholu-Bholu and Indumati, will also represent the group in all its marketing activities, marketing collaterals and events. It may be noted that Mighty Raju and Krishna aren't given away as an attachment to Chhota Bheem anymore.

Arora adds that while the corporate campaign will be over by mid-July, the various franchises may keep the campaigns going on in their areas. This is because the admissions for play schools aren't on a yearly basis and carry on round-the-year.

For the record, the Shemrock and Shemford group of Schools admitted more than 20,000 students in 2012-13. However, the capacity of all the Shemrock play schools put together is about 18,000 and that of Shemford is 20,000. The chain expects to hit the ceiling in two years.

The license to the character, Chhota Bheem, is owned by PMI Green Gold Animation.

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