On a fearless journey

Star Bharat was born with a vision to bring original content to the heartland

Every few years, we look for ways to upend the norms of entertainment and do things that haven’t been done before. When we set out to explore the heartland of India, we realized that they did not have access to original content that reflects their aspirations, needs and tastes. Star Bharat was born of this vision to give this unit, original and relatable content that they can identify with.

We discovered that the heartland was very different from the Bharat of the newspaper headlines. The real Bharat wants progress, but is fearful of the blind acceptance of modernity that seems to come with it. It aspires to take its rightful place as one of the world’s great powers, but not at the cost of losing touch with its moral, cultural and religious roots. It wants to do good, not just for the individual but for the community as a whole.

“We want to shatter the stereotypes that have come to be associated with the heartland of India”
Uday Shankar, President 21CF Asia and Chairman & CEO - Star India

So that’s exactly what we set out to do with Star Bharat, which aims to inspire the ‘average Bharatiya’ to chase their dreams by overcoming the fear that holds them back. At the heart of this effort is our bold new philosophy - ‘Bhula de darr, kuch alag karr’. “We want to inspire a generation of people to take actions without fear,” Gayatri Yadav, President - Consumer Strategy and Innovation.

At the outset, we were clear that our protagonists have to reflect the reality of the India we want to inspire and entertain in the shared language. It called for reimagining everything that had worked for us in the past. “We wanted to create a highly differentiated slate of shows that would resonate with Bharat. We also built it on a variety lens which had a social drama based in a Bihar village; sit coms, thrillers and historicals. This multi-genre play makes Star Bharat stand apart,” Gaurav Banerjee, President & Head – Hindi GEC.

More than a tagline

Our commitment to fearless action isn’t just reflected in the stories we tell. It’s the main guiding principle behind Star Bharat, informing everything from our branding and identity to our marketing campaigns.

Even the launch of the channel saw us breaking several of our own records, as we created an ambitious new offering from scratch in only 10 weeks. “It was like we had decided to launch a moon expedition in the time it takes to travel to another country,” laughs Gaurav Barjatya, Head Marketing, Star Bharat. “We pulled in people from different channels across the Star network to create a team that worked 20 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some of us even kept toothbrushes and a change of clothes in the office.”

The first step was to establish the brand’s identity. We brainstormed over the name for weeks, trying to choose from a list that ran into the hundreds. Eventually, it was Chairman & CEO Uday Shankar who suggested Star Bharat. Star, in the channel name, lends immense credibility; Bharat in Devanagari script symbolises the collective, the heart of India.

Break every rule

While conventional wisdom dictates that any brand is built in the metros first and then popularised elsewhere, we chose to focus our attention entirely on the Hindi-speaking desh. We launched a massive on-ground campaign that covered print, radio, outdoor ads and on-ground activation to give us a 100% coverage and reach in the Hindi markets, a first for the Star network.

Another piece of conventional wisdom is that on social media, English is the ‘lingua franca’. But we decided that if we are going to be a channel for the Hindi heartland, then we need to be true to ourselves across all platforms. All our communication on television and social media platforms was designed in Hindi. 

All our communication on television and social media platforms was designed in Hindi. “Star Bharat’s campaign turned the tide around, defying English language’s dominance on social media,” Aijaz Nakhuda, Digital team, Star Bharat. “The impact of Hindi combined with our incessant communication strategy, helped us reach every social media user in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.”

 

On August 18, we launched ‘Mat Kar’, a short film that captured the many small ways in which our family, friends and society shapes our thinking and instills fear and self-doubt. ‘Mat Kar’ created a lot of buzz, setting the stage for the ‘bhula de darr, kuch alag karr’ series of promo films. Idols such as Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ajay Devgn and Mithali Raj shared their own stories of powering through fear, a shining example to our viewers of what is possible if only you take action.

The Journey Begins

At 5.58 pm on August 28, 2017, a group of people huddled together on the 31st floor of the Star office held their breath as Life OK! went off the air. This was one the unique projects at Star where almost every department had contributed and this was the moment of truth for them.

Throughout the building, employees used their cell phones as walkie talkies, functioning almost like an ‘internal news channel’, as they prepared for the big launch.

Two minutes later, Star Bharat was finally on air and within three months, we were the #1 channel in the category. Someone in the team quipped, “Oh! We’re just getting started.”

“The uniqueness of our storytelling, our characters and the thought Bhula de darr, kuchh alag kar, have found resonance with the audiences and have paved our way into their hearts. It only goes to show that good content will always find audience,” says Sagnik Ghosh, former GM Star Bharat and now GM - Star Jalsha.

Imagine more
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