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ZEEL’s Punit Misra on Zee TV’s new brand proposition, FTA, afternoon slot and OTT

MUMBAI: Almost 25 years after creating history by becoming the first private TV channel to launch in the country, ZEEL’s flagship Hindi GEC Zee TV has undergone a re-branding exercise which took nearly eight months and involved a lot of research that included understanding the root strengths of the brand.

The new brand proposition is ‘Aaj Likhenge Kal’ and the new look and feel kicked off last night 15 October 2017 during the ‘Dabur Red Ayurvedic Gel Presents Zee Rishtey Awards co-powered by Clinic Plus and Himalaya Body Lotion Special Partners Nerolac Paints and Finolex Cables’. The change will also be replicated online and on platforms where Zee TV is present.

Through its characters and stories, the channel endeavours to provide the spark that encourages its viewers to draw from their own inner strength and take charge of their destinies. This fresh reiteration of its brand purpose urges the audiences to curate their own extraordinary future.

ZEEL CEO domestic broadcast business Punit Misra said that the aim is reiterate to consumers that the channel is with them on their journey as they go out and achieve things. New shows will be introduced and the aim is to be progressive and aspirational. The aim is to ignite the spark of the middle class to chase their dreams. The orange colour is being used in the brand identity and the aim of the channel is to have a unique space of its own.”

“Aaj Likhenge Kal is a brand and content mantra which will translate into a stronger bond with viewers. We wish to walk along the life journeys of our viewers and nudge and support them to proactively take control of their destinies. Zee TV’s evolution of its brand proposition is a part of a larger brand refresh exercise for our organisation.”

Brand Identity: The ‘Aaj Likhenge Kal’ philosophy is brought alive with a brand new visual identity, where each element signifies the aspiration of the great Indian middle class. The circular logo denotes the universal appeal of Zee TV’s all-inclusive content. The orange colour represents the inner glow or radiance that emanates from within – a symbol of positivity and confidence that the brand echoes. The brand packaging will be brought alive through elements of nature such as fire, earth, water, air – the diya which represents light and hope, the blooming of an orange flower that stands for the beauty of life and evolution, gold that denotes eternal richness and mosaic which enunciates the power of synergy that stems from several fragmented pieces coming together to form a beautiful whole.

Zee TV deputy business head Deepak Rajadhyaksha said, “With Aaj Likhenge Kal, we are cementing the building blocks of our relationship with viewers. As we move forward, we hope to unlock the India of our dreams by serving as catalysts in transforming the middle-class into self-motivated go-getters, reaching out for the extraordinary. Our shows, be it the existing line-up or the new launches, will be in reflective of our core proposition. With them, we wish to ignite a spark amongst our viewers to fight both intrinsic and societal battles, and proactively transform their destinies to shape a beautiful tomorrow.”

Further bringing alive the essence of its core proposition, Zee TV said that it will set yet another precedent for the industry – a format innovation in the Hindi GEC space – a first-of-its-kind brand feature film titled ‘Aaj Likhenge Kal’. The feature film will span its entire primetime of four and a half hours integrating through all of Zee TV’s fiction offerings.

This film, narrating a young girl Pakhi’s resolve to make her mother Meera realize her dream of becoming a medical officer for the naval forces, will have each of Zee TV’s popular fiction protagonists stepping in to help the mother-daughter duo in their quest for self-actualisation. Replete with drama, a wedding, interesting twists and turns to engage viewers and some naach gaana, this biggest blockbuster of all Mahasangams will be aired on 16th October 2017.

Zeel CMO Prathyusha Agarwal said, “As we bring alive our brand philosophy through our shows and characters, a robust marketing strategy will establish and amplify the brand POV through multiple brand assets. Our brand anthem, composed by Vishal Bharadwaj, sung by Shreya Ghoshal and Arijit Singh hums the extraordinary journeys our audiences are making and hopes to be the voice of this unwavering spirit. Our brand film captures the essence of the great Indian middle class rising and aims to spark many more to take the leap. To truly touch people’s lives with the essence of Aaj Likhenge Kal this Diwali, Zee TV will bring light to the nation’s budding future through mobile vans with LED lit installations of the new logo. These vans, strategically placed, will provide light for those who would otherwise study under street lamps.”

As the programming line-up continues to develop further in upcoming months, Aaj Likhenge Kal will take precedence in all aspects of content design encouraging viewers to make their lives truly extraordinary.

Misra further noted that this is a special time for content creators. That is because people can access content on the go on their mobile phones, on their laptops. “We are familiar with digital. It is growing. But television is running. In the last few years 25 million homes got added in measured TV homes. Television remains a force to be reckoned with.”

He noted that Dr. Subhash Chandra had earlier said that what he did back in 1992 was illegal. A private operator couldn’t own a channel back in the early 1990s. However Misra added that he is grateful that Dr. Chandra did what he did given the pace for growth in the television market both on the subscription front and on the ad front. Misra noted the importance of Chandra’s entrepreneurial vision in shaping the channel and the company. This has allowed it to do the impossible, be ahead of the race.

The Journey: He noted that Zee as a group started small with one channel and has reached a situation today where there are 35 channels. “The biggest evolution has been in terms of scale and size. We started as a TV channel and today we are a media and entertainment conglomerate. We have a presence in film, radio, digital and music. Beyond TV we are present in different realms. It has been an incredible journey of an entrepreneurial organisation which at its heart remains entrepreneurial yet has scaled up beautifully from a TV channel to be a media and entertainment conglomerate. It is this context that we look at the next 25 years.”

He said that the pioneering spirit of Dr. Chandra is reflected in the fact that at any stage the company has had firsts. “We were the first private channel. Our channel was the first where within two to three years it went abroad to the Middle East. We are the first channel to create not just content in Indian languages but also content in four to five languages outside of India. We create content in Germany, the US. That is a big milestone. Our entry into what is now digital back in 2009 with Ditto was the first.”

Consumer Expectations: He feels that this area has a lot to do with measurement. “We now have measurement which is truly reflective of India. 10 years ago the measurement maybe was focussed on fewer pockets of consumers. So that is the thing which makes a big difference. In India 95 per cent of the homes are single TV. 183 million homes have TV and we are measuring that in rural and small towns. Hence we then create content which appeals to a very large consumer base which is spread between urban, rural large towns, small towns. This is the shift that impacts the creation of content.”

Being Progressive: He noted that Zee TV has always made progressive content. “We have taken pride in the fact that our characters are have spoken ahead of their times. They spoke about what the India of tomorrow would be and I think that people have loved us because of this.”

He also feels that there is space for more entrants which is why the & brand was put out there and is being built on. “We have shown through our actions that we believe that more is possible. We have acquired the Magic brands. You need to have differentiated brands which can go after defined and differentiated consumers. That is the challenge. That is the tougher question.”

FTA: He further noted that Zee Anmol is a leader. “Honestly the FTA channels are both good and bad. They are good in that we are reaching out to many more viewers who see content that was created for pay channels. But it could harm the industry. It is a tricky balancing act. The ad spend that happens as a percentage of GDP is one third of countries like Indonesia. The true value of every 10 seconds or every eyeball is not coming to the industry which will hamper the industry. There is great consumer reach, you are profitable but on the other side somewhere it has am medium to long term impact which is not so great.”

He noted that FTA channels sell in the market at significantly lower rates despite the getting the eyeballs. “FTA channels are hampering the expansion of the pay channels which impacts the overall business case for those channels. The fact is that pay channels have not sen as much revenue growth as they should have.” He noted that his company does not play content on FTA if it is on pay TV.

His hope is that regulation helps grow the subscription market and that ideally revenue split should be equal between subscription and advertising. Currently 70 per cent of revenues come from advertising. He noted that it is a good thing for consumers to get a choice and then pay for that choice. India he noted is very far behind the rest of the world when it comes to subscription.

Original Afternoon Content: He noted that Zee TV does not look at this area. However, ZEEL does create content for the afternoon in other languages like Marathi. “We have not seen the case for afternoon content on Zee TV. We have not found it useful for Hindi. But we are no longer just Hindi as I keep telling people. We create a huge amount of content in our other states and markets. In Marathi where we are leaders with almost 67 per cent share we started some shows in the afternoon which wasn’t there six months ago. We look at the market, every opportunity and then we craft our own strategy. You are aware that we bought 9X as that is a music channel. We will keep scouting for opportunities where there is a large consumer segment, we believe that we have the wherewithal to make these business opportunities work for us. If they don’t work we are equally fine to then move on from there.”

OTT: On the OTT front he said that more is more. If someone is going on the lift watches content then it means that more content is being consumed. This wasn’t happening earlier. “Our job is to create great content and see that people move seamlessly between screens. The average time spent in the US on TV is 2x of India. It is a very evolved market on digital also. In the US TV consumption is not going down and digital of course is exploding. I don’t see why India should be different. So i think that India should embrace digital. It is not a question of either TV or digital.”