Sumita Vaid

National Geographic to splurge Rs 11 crore on joint initiative with Indian Army

The joint initiative is part of NGC’s integrated programming startegy to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Everest climb

It happens only in India … well … in the Indian Army.

For the first time, the Indian Army has joined hands with a television channel. To give five Indians the opportunity to scale Mount Everest. This alliance is part of NGC's six-month integrated programming and marketing initiative to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Everest climb.

So how will this opportunity be translated into reality? NGC plans to launch a nationwide contest titled ‘Everest Se Takkar. The on-air promo will break on January 26, which will give out details about how to enter the contest.

The selection process will be something like this. After a preliminary round of selections, participants will be invited to four cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore - to undertake a physical, medical and a psychometric test. Fifty contestants will be shortlisted from each centre. Thus, at the end of the first round, 200 people will proceed to the next round of eliminations.

At the end of the next round, 20 hopefuls will be taken to the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarkashi, to be trained by instructors from the Indian Army. At the end of the training course, the Indian Army will choose five people to accompany the joint Indo-Nepal Army Everest Expedition.

For the Indian Army, this initiative is all about a meeting of minds. "It is for the first time that the we have tied up with a channel and this, we feel, befits the true spirit of adventure," says Major General Vasudeva, DGMT, Indian Army. He adds, "Everest to us is about daring to dream; so on the 50th year of the first Everest climb we decided to bring the dream of Everest to our countrymen."

This is the first initiative of its kind by NGC as well, devised specifically for the Indian market. The whole exercise - right from the time the 200 contestants enter the first round to the time the five finalists are chosen - will be filmed by an all-Indian team. The whole exercise will be telecast on NGC in April. Talks with advertisers are underway.

"The Everest initiative has a single point agenda - to build relevance in an increasingly cluttered environment by touching lives directly," says Zubin Gandevia, managing director, NGC, India. "The channel is investing over Rs 11 crore on the Everest initiative," he adds. The Everest promo will run on radio, TV and the Internet.

This initiative is a fantastic branding strategy, believes many in the media. "This exercise is bound to have a positive rub off. While the USP of channels such as NGC or Discovery is global content, this initiative on the part of NGC is a clever idea to create a sense of involvement among the Indian masses," opines a media analyst. NGC plans to dub the whole episode in English.

To encourage appointment viewing, following the kick off of ‘Everest Se Takkar', there will be some local programming initiatives and a commemorative Global Tentpole, which recreates the first climb with Jamlin Norgay and Peter Hillary, sons of Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary. Peter Bishop, son of the National Geographic explorer Brent Bishop, who also scaled the peak, accompanies Jamlin and Peter. © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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