Benita Chacko

How KBC has set the standard for brand integrations with sponsors like Hyundai, Asian Paints, and more

The Sony program has a brand mention every few minutes in the show. Yet, it pulls it all off without hindering the audience's viewing experience.

As Kaun Banega Crorepati's iconic theme music draws the contestant's attention to the Fastest Finger First challenge, the host Amitabh Bachchan cautions them, "Yeh ek mauka bahut mahatwa purna hota hai, toh bahut dhyan se kheliye ga" (this one chance is very essential, so play carefully), echoing Ultratech Cement's Ghar ek, mauka ek mantra displayed on the screen.

Sony LIV, the show's digital powerhouse, adds its own flair with its Play Along. Every answer is followed by Parle Agro's Yeh Tha Smoodh Jawab or Not So Smoodh. ACKO insurance safeguards the lifelines, while Croma conducts captivating quizzes. This is Kaun Banega Crorepati, where entertainment and advertising seamlessly converge, allowing brands to tell their stories on the grand stage of knowledge and entertainment.

Sandeep Mehrotra, head of ad sales, network channels, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), says that the aim is to create a win-win for advertisers, sponsors, and viewers through compelling content, targeted ads, seamless branding, and innovation.

"We ensure integrations boost recall, visibility, and segment significance, meticulously crafting each collaboration. Brands add value without detracting from the show's essence," he says.

Ranjana Mangla, head of ad sales revenue, Sony LIV, says finding the right contextual content for brands is a collaborative effort among publishers, media agencies, and advertisers. "Fitment is key and it should never be forced. We have to have the right contextual moments for the brands. Our multi-faceted partnership approach ensures associative value, avoiding disruption for the audience."

For instance, Acko has taken the lifeline sponsorship- an insurance brand extending a lifeline to viewers. Similarly, the show’s banking partner IDFC First Bank, one of India's youngest banks, leverages KBC to reach the top 200 million audience of the country.

While each sponsor has a space within the show, whether through Aston bands or specific mentions, it seamlessly flows into the narrative and rarely hinders the audience's viewing experience. Mehrotra says this is possible because every brand lends significance to its integration and maintains its unique recall value.

"Each brand holds a distinctive position within the show's framework. This approach ensures a seamless integration without overwhelming clutter. As the season progresses, viewers come to anticipate these integrations tied to specific segments," Mehrotra says.

Parle Agro's Smoodh integration on Sony LIV's Play Along
Parle Agro's Smoodh integration on Sony LIV's Play Along

The network has roped in different sponsors for the television broadcast and the OTT streaming. Sony Entertainment Television has roped in Hyundai Motor India, Asian Paints, Ultratech Cement, Mondelez India, Parag Milk Foods, Vicco Laboratories, Xiaomi, MRF, Bikaji, RC Plasto Tanks and Pipes, Kalyan Jewellers and Cera Sanitaryware. The show also has a partnership deal with Reserve Bank of India and its Banking Partner is State Bank of India. 

Meanwhile, Sony LIV has signed up IDFC FIRST Bank as its banking partner. It also has onboard ACKO, Vimal, Croma, UltraTech Cement, Parle Agro and Atomberg as sponsors.

This diversity in sponsorship has led to variations in content presentation as well. For example, on television Bachchan transfers the prize money through State Bank of India's YONO app. Whereas, on OTT it is IDFC First Bank. KBC's target audience may resonate well with the brand. However, if its addressable market size is not the 400 million television viewers, but a certain kind of audience profile then, a combination of audiences on OTT is more enticing for it.

Mangla says this is the future of content. "Brands choose platforms based on audience profiles. Brands seek sharper ways to engage their audience on the same content profile. We've mastered multi-category integrations on both TV and OTT."

The banking partner for the television broadcast, State Bank of India's Yono app facilitates money transfers, ingeniously aligning an inherent show element to provide brand integration. Gowardhan Ghee rewards contestants who cross the Rs 3.2 lakh mark with an annual supply of ghee. RBI's Miss Money appears during Bachchan's interludes to raise awareness. Contestants winning more than Rs 25 lakh get to be clicked with the superstar at the Asian Paints Spotlight wall. Xiaomi offers the Video Call a Friend lifeline, boosting Redmi12 5G's brand launch.

Sony LIV's Play Along further drives viewers' engagement with the brands. Mangla says Play Along will help KBC evolve and stay relevant as it adapts well to the modern gaming trend, where interactive content is highly sought after. "KBC Play Along will continue to be relevant as people no longer want to be passive viewers, but seek active engagement with content," she says.

IDFC First Bank's Daily Quiz on Sony LIV
IDFC First Bank's Daily Quiz on Sony LIV

While the viewers play the game with the contestant, they are also faced with sponsored bonus questions in the ad breaks. Answering questions posed by Ultratech Cement, RBI and IDFC First Bank can help the viewers gain extra points. ACKO helps them combat difficult questions with lifelines. Finally, Croma rewards lucky winners.

"With Play Along we drove KBC from the studio audience to 650 million smartphones in the country. Play Along's purpose is to extend the game's reach beyond the large screen to engage users through two-way communication on small screens. It also makes it more contextual for brands," adds Mangla.

KBC's sponsors for Sony Entertainment Television
KBC's sponsors for Sony Entertainment Television

This year, the television broadcast introduced Desh Ka Sawal supported by Hyundai, letting citizens pose questions to the studio audience, with Hyundai gift hampers for winners. When a contestant uses the new lifeline Double Dip, Bachchan's words echo: "Aapne is lifeline ka asardar istamal kiya hai" (you have used this lifeline effectively), a nod to Vicco Vajradanti's Mazedaar Nahi Asardaar tagline.

"We connect the brand briefs of key sponsors with KBC's limited assets, striving for seamless and contextual integration," Mehrotra adds.

In its 15th season now, KBC remains an attractive property for brands. Mehrotra says it is the show's values of trust, enlightenment, and financial success coupled with Amitabh Bachchan's iconic presence that draws them.

"The show's allure is magnified by his presence. His mere voice becomes a potent instrument, as he seamlessly integrates endorsements. The resonance achieved is nothing short of remarkable, making KBC a fertile ground for brand integration," he shares.

KBC's sponsors on SonyLIV
KBC's sponsors on SonyLIV

Mangla says with the show running for over 23 years, it's deeply ingrained in our culture. It offers a unique opportunity for both legacy and new-age brands.

"If a brand is sponsoring KBC, it implies that the brand has reached a certain stature. It lends trust and value to all advertisers regardless of their category," she says.

Moreover, unlike other content, KBC offers guilt-free consumption.

"Families encourage their kids to watch the show. One is only appreciated for watching such content. Moreover, it lends itself for family viewing. This aligns well with brands' desired personalities," she says.

This season of KBC coincided with the Asia Cup and is now overlapping with the ICC Cricket World Cup. Mehrotra says KBC's offer to brands is different from what cricket tournaments offer.

"Associations with cricket have primarily been about spots and inventory, while KBC provides business solutions to brands through customised solutions and integrations which influence outcomes and build brands," he says.

Mangla says unlike cricket tournaments, which span a select few days, KBC offers a sweet spot for brands from August to December.

"ICC Cricket tournaments span a few select days, unlike KBC's nearly 100-day longevity from August to December. KBC's annual presence in marketing calendars ensures marketers set aside a budget for the show," she says. 

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