Want to watch a film at a PVR multiplex free of cost? Join the Pix Movie Club, which allows members to select, via a Facebook poll, new movies for special screenings every month at PVR theatres in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore. The club is an initiative of Sony Pix, the movie channel of Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd.
Star Movies, the English-language film channel of Star India Pvt. Ltd, screens new movies at multiplexes a day ahead of their official release through an initiative called Hollywood Premieres. Chillout Nites is another Star Movies programme under which it sponsors an evening of food and drinks at more than 200 homes every three months for marketing its “movie of the month”.
With little by way of content to differentiate them from peers, entertainment channels have started looking beyond television to promote themselves.
Such “on-ground activation” makes it easier for channels to connect with viewers, said Saurabh Yagnik, senior vice-president and general manager, English channels, Star India.
“India has moved on from a monologue to a dialogue or conversation,” he said. “The success of social media—Facebook and Twitter—highlights the trend.”
Both Chillout Nites and Hollywood Premieres enable Star Movies to engage with 5,000 people each, Yagnik added. “Our objective is to double that number.”
Channel V, a music channel from the Star India stable, has launched V Spot cafe and bar in New Delhi, targeting college-goers. It plans to open outlets in Gurgaon, Pune, Kolkata and Chandigarh as well.
The channel has also started sponsoring and organizing college festivals in a big way. For instance, Indiafest will be held in Goa in January, featuring events and contests related to music, dance, sport and fashion. More than 50,000 students from 240-plus colleges in 10 cities are expected to attend, said Prem Kamath, executive vice-president and general manager, Channel V.
“In order to get the attention of this target audience, we need to compete with the Web as well,” Kamath said. “Most of them (youngsters) don’t want too much TV. It’s best to reach out to them on ground.”
Channel V’s rival MTV has organized 13 live concerts this year. Aditya Swamy, executive vice-president and business head for MTV at Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd, said the channel has a separate division called MTV Live for such activities.
It makes sense for various music channels to promote themselves via off-screen activities as their content is essentially the same, says Kiran Khalap, founder of Chlorophyll Brand Communications and Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.
“It’s a global trend, driven by the integrated way in which digital natives consume brands,” Khalap said. “Fundamentally, the content of music channels is similar. Bringing the brand alive through events and other brand experiences creates new avenues for brand differentiation.”
UTV Bindaas, another youth channel, gave out caps, slippers, sling bags and other goodies at traffic junctions and parks all the way from Bandra to Colaba in Mumbai last week to support a “car-free day”. The initiative was in partnership with Cafe Coffee Day .
Sony Pix, meanwhile, said film enthusiasts are asking it to extend the Pix Movie Club to Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai as well.
“A ground activity or event enables us to bring out various aspects of a film and connect them with real situations or individuals,” said Himmat Butalia, the channel’s marketing head. “We did a karate workshop with young martial arts experts for the film The Karate Kid and engaged with bomb detection and disposal squads for The Hurt Locker .”
Such activities aid brand recall and are here to stay, say experts.
“The future may see more ambitious television networks opening signature pubs, cafes or stores that hand out exclusive merchandise, like Disney does in global markets,” said Deepak Jayaram, managing partner at GroupM India Pvt. Ltd. “The emphasis seems to be to deliver an experience in place of just TV content.”