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Sony to do ‘Yudh’ with Big B at the centre

MUMBAI: Sony Entertainment Television (SET) is gearing up to launch its mega-fiction property ‘Yudh’ on 14 July, and is riding high on its protagonist Yudishtir, aka Amitabh Bachchan’s, charisma to build buzz around the show.  The show’s clear USP is Bachchan’s debut on television in a fiction show, and the channel has designed unique marketing innovations driving home the point.

The finite series will be presented as 20 one-hour episodes for five weeks in the 10:30 pm slot from Monday to Thursday.

amitabh-yudhBeing a perfectionist and revered in his field of work, Bachchan was associated with the show in the smallest way right from the conceptualisation stage a year back. From the initial stages, the actor was very clear that he wanted to pitch this as a movie playing out on TV.

He spent a lot of time on the project as he is co-producing it and called the team multiple times during the day to discuss the show. There were times when he also changed his schedule and reshot for various portions without any hassles.

SET SVP, head marketing Gaurav Seth said, “Amitabh Bachchan is the sole driver for impact and pulling people to say that this is a powerful story with him as the main character. The aim is to tell the story in a finite way; otherwise, you fall victim to the trap of dragging. The initial pull will be strong due to strong cast and there is curiosity around it due to the gripping promos. There are a lot of stories told on television, but our USP is Mr Bachchan debuting for the first time on television as a character in a fiction series.”

It is a high drama show and that is how the channel seems to be pitching it as well. A very conscious move has been taken by the channel to use high drama moments from the show as promos with Big B as their USP.

In fact, most of the marketing initiatives by the channel have been designed keeping in mind Bachchan’s popularity and roping in maximum audiences through that. The channel is betting heavily on digital and has used the large base of 9 million followers of Bachchan on Twitter to launch the trailers.

Earlier, SET launched the trailer during the IPL to generate curiosity and also did a Bombay Stock Exchange activity with Big B in his character apart from unveiling a 50-foot poster of the show in a true filmy style.

“The GEC audience might not take to the story immediately, but they will watch it because of Bachchan and the other star cast who also belong to the film fraternity. That way the sampling will be very big. However, there won’t be much time for attrition on a large scale since it’s a finite series,” he added.

Gaurav Seth

Gaurav Seth

Taking the popularity of the actor forward, the channel is also indulging in a lot of activities for the first time on the social media space. One of them is ‘Curtain Raiser’, a Twitter-based initiative which will allow a person to unlock the content of the first episode.

People with maximum number of tweets will have the opportunity to watch a maximum of 10 minutes from the first episode a day prior to the show launch. Furthermore, viewers will get an opportunity to unlock and watch a part of the episode scheduled to be telecast the next day before the actual airing.

After every episode, a series of questions will be displayed and viewers who correctly answer stand a chance to exclusively preview the following day’s episode. This option will be available throughout the season of the show.

Besides, an application ‘Yudh Nama’ is also designed which will reveal what similarities a person has with the character traits of Yudhishtir. The launch of this application is scheduled with the launch of the show.

The channel has additionally embarked on 360-degree marketing activities across platforms, on-ground, on-air and social media space. The promo of the show will be seen across channels reaching genres like news, music, Bollywood movies and regional. The channel has gone ahead and secured over 10,000 spots which are outside the MSM network.

Radio listeners from Mumbai, Delhi, UP, Maharashtra and Gujarat having a population of over 1 million will also be hearing spots of the promo leading to the tune-in of the show. On print too, there will be ads on all leading publications across the Hindi-speaking markets.

Movie-goers will also witness the high-octane promo of the show featuring the actor, apart from the outdoor posters and hoardings of the show across Delhi, Mumbai and UP.  The hoardings have been designed by Himanshu and Rahul Nanda.

The large-scale marketing and promotional plan has been designed to appeal to a mass audience, even as the promos give out a feeling of being a more male skewed show.

However, Seth explained that Bachchan’s appeal is across audience groups. “The content may appear so because of the strong intrigue in drama, but there is enough drama set within the household for women audiences as well. ‘Yudh’ is actually the fight that Yudishtir faces at every front of his life. We think the programming will appeal across audiences, but the show will be more skewed towards urban viewers keeping in mind the 10:30 pm band.”

Yudhisthir Sikarwar(Amitabh Bachchan) rings the first trading day on 17 June

Yudhisthir Sikarwar(Amitabh Bachchan) rings the first trading day on 17 June

Being a high-investment property, questions of it being able to break-even arise. However, Seth confidently stated that they have enough interest from the advertiser community. And indeed the show has roped in Cadbury Dairy Milk as the title sponsor, OLX as the powered-by sponsor, and Honda, Maruti Suzuki, Nutrela, Syska LED, Ultratech and Goibibo.com as the associate sponsors.

In fact, SET had organised an evening about a month back with Bachchan, where they called around 30–35 of their closest advertisers to meet and greet. An observation was that apart from adulation, they had a lot of respect for the actor.

Seth stated, “It’s not about investment, it’s about creating content that you believe in. Today, brands associate with Mr Bachchan not because he is an affinity driver, but because his appeal is very strong. So somewhere they (advertisers) believe that this show and the content can deliver on their expectations.”