The Carnival

Written by Anindita Sarkar | Updated: Jan 14 2014, 08:15am hrs
What better way to reach out to your audience in distant lands than through a fun filled, colourful carnival Taking a lesson or two from fast moving consumer goods companies that speak to the heart of India through on ground fairs and festivals, television broadcaster Multi Screen Media (MSM) has initiated a unique carnival property called Mahotsav directed towards the hinterland up north.

The event will be carried out in six key towns of Uttar Pradesh and thirty seven towns and cities of Punjab and Haryana. The Uttar Pradesh markets include those areas with a population over a million, such as Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Allahabad, Agra and Dehradun. The Punjab Harayana zone includes markets that have population ranging from half a million to a million. The markets within the Punjab-Haryana belt include Bathinda, Abohar, Batala, Yamuna Nagar, Kaithal, Jind, Rohtak, Jalandar and Bhiwani. The broadcaster has earmarked spends of a few crores for this initiative, which will help them connect with those in the hinterland and this is especially significant in the wake of a transition to digitally addressable systems in tier two towns. In the Mahotsav, the channel will bring all its shows and characters to the audiences either through actual star appearances or by creating stalls where participants can play and act just like the characters they love. In certain instances, they are encouraged to put up an act along with the protagonists from the show. The network did not comment on the investment for these initiatives.

So, the Maharana Pratap fans can enjoy the gleaming props and other embellishments at the Maharana Pratap booth while Kaun Banega Crorepati fans can take away a Maha memory back by posing alongside Amitabh Bachchans life size cut out. The Indian Idol dreamers can lend their vocals to a karaoke set up and real life couples can check their compatibility with the Bade Acche Lagte Hain compatibility test. There is also a Men against Crime defense workshop for women to promote the property Crime Patrol.

Gaurav Seth, senior vice president, marketing & communications, SET says, The initiative was conceived about three months ago. We then identified the markets that we wanted to start with. UP, Punjab and Haryana are part of the first phase which will continue till January-end. The next phase will begin after the Indian Premiere League. We are not targeting any LC1 (less than 1 lakh) markets right now. I want to ensure that my core audience, which is in the larger towns, is reached out to in a differential manner. For the record, while Kent RO is the sponsor of the Sony Mahotsav in Punjab, Haryana and UP while Radio Mirchi and Big FM have associated with the event only in UP. Universal Music, meanwhile, is the talent partner across all regions.

According to Ashesh Jani, partner, Deloitte Haskins & Sells, marketing strategies such as these help projecting a brand to the people directly, especially when the brand is cross-functional like Sony. Apart from TV, Sony is into a lot other businesses as well including hardware, equipments and television sets. Therefore, such initiatives help build awareness for the brand especially in markets which are not category one. Being a cross-functional industry in which it sits, a Sony-like brand can exercise a lot of mileage if it goes to the people directly. It is also a win-win call for the advertisers too who tend to associate with such events. This is because the advertiser and its brand products are also on display for a direct consumer experience, he adds.

According to Ernst and Youngs white-paper on the Business of Experiences, the organized portion of the Indian events and activation industry has grown at over 20% during the last two years and is expected to grow to R4,375 crore by 2013-14. Also, marketers plan to increase the proportion of their below the line spends from 17.8% today to 19.6% by 201314. However the report also states that the events and activation industry in India has seen the lowest transactions activity among all segments of the media and entertainment sector, due to its small size, person-dependent nature and absence of bankable intellectual property rights (IP). Many agree that large-scale below the line activation is still not a marked trend within the television sector. The white paper however states that as media companies grow and cross the R100 crore size and bring about increased transparency, niche capabilities and become more corporatized, this could change.