ZEE MGM and English bid for the top spot

By , agencyfaqs! | In | April 14, 2003
Even as the channels get their content right, the focus is on the visibility of the brands

ZEE MGM and English have never been so active (read proactive) before. What began as a serious soul-searching exercise in 2002 seems to be bearing fruit this year. The aim clearly is to try and move into the consideration set of people and thereby bid for the top spot. "We've always had good content, " reiterates Ashvini Yardi, business head - ZEE MGM and English, who was the programming head of the two channels earlier. "But now the focus is on making the brands visible."

In this regard, a huge promotional and advertising budget has been outlined, though Yardi isn't revealing figures yet. "The idea is to try and give a feel of the brand online as well as offline, which is why we will be tapping all media, leaving no stone unturned."

The channel brass proposes to use a mix of radio, Internet, print and outdoor backed by on-ground and below-the-line activities. It has initiated a "big tie-up with indiatimes.com" apart from concentrating its attention on youth hangouts. "Our appeal is unique, and the aim is to try and promote every major activity and property that appears on the channels."

The team, for instance, organised a special screening of Hollywood flick Chicago on Sunday, April 13, across the four metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore. The screening was held for the winners of the Chicago contest that was running on both MGM and English.

Parallely, the team is also beefing up "interactivity" on the channels especially on MGM to "ensure appointment viewing". "We have introduced a slot on Tuesdays called MGM Rig where movie lovers can view flicks of their choice by selecting from a list hosted on contests2win.com. Every email message sent is counted as a single vote in favour of the movie and thereby increases the probability of it being screened. To make it easier for viewers, we are planning to introduce SMS messaging, which we believe will be a roaring success."

Even as the channel brass devises newer means to provide a real-time experience of the brand, what is interesting to note, especially in the case of MGM, is the sudden burst of high-profile movie acquisitions - all of them outside the MGM studio. "The effort really began in July last year when we screened the movie Traffic starring Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, " emphasises Yardi. "Since then we have been looking to acquire movies outside the MGM studio and our endeavour has paid off."

Apart from acquiring current Oscar winner, Chicago starring Richard Gere, Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones, the channel has the C&S rights to almost 100 movies outside the MGM studio, which span genres and include a fair of amount of recent blockbusters too. "This only goes to show our commitment to give viewers the best and the latest from the world of cinema," states Yardi.

Included are flicks such as Serendipity starring Kate Beckinsale and John Cussack, Everyone Says I Love You starring Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore and Goldie Hawn, Jacky Brown directed by Hollywood ace Quentin Tarantino, Birthday Girl featuring Nicole Kidman, Full Frontal directed by critically acclaimed filmmaker, Steven Soderberg, The Cyder House Rules featuring Michael Caine and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind starring George Clooney.

Clearly ZEE MGM with these acquisitions is falling in line with the golden rule of title-led appointment viewing, which has been the strategy of rivals STAR Movies and HBO. Recency is another factor that the channel brass bears in mind, though Yardi claims that the thrust of the channel is "good movies anytime of the day". "That is what a movie lover wants," she states, "and our partnership with MGM gives us access to one of the largest collection of movies in the world."

Meanwhile, action comedy She Spies premiered on April 8 at 10.30 pm on ZEE English adding to the list of comedies on the channel including classics such as Seinfeld, Friends and Mad About You and recent releases such as Will and Grace and Mind of the Married Man, which were launched in January this year. Also to premiere in June will be the NBC Studios-produced "off-centre" comedy, Hidden Hills. "With a mix of cult, niche and superlative comedies, ZEE English is moving towards a unique channel identity," states Yardi.

The drama band has also seen some activity with the launch of the new season of political series West Wing and the slated launch of Six Feet Under in May as well as the new season of mafia drama Sopranos in June.

"I am charged up about the two brands," states Yardi who was appointed business head of MGM and English just over a month ago. "Our efforts are in the right direction, which is bound to bear fruit." © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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