In Conversation with Sabrina Dsouza

Head of Marketing, English Entertaiment, Viacom18
Wednesday, 02 Aug 2017
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Sabrina D\'souza is the Head of Marketing of the English Entertainment division at Viacom18, India.
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Sabrina D'souza is the Head of Marketing of the English Entertainment division at Viacom18, India.

What strategies are helping COLORS INFINITY bag the numero uno position in English entertainment channels in India?

Colors Infinity is in a sweet spot because of a very distinct programming line-up and innovative brand building. Colors Infinity continues to expand the horizon of English Entertainment in India through a delectable mix of the biggest English shows premiering immediately after international release and some iconic library shows that you would want to watch again. We are further disrupting the category through innovative scheduling (viz. Live Binge, Infinity on Demand, etc.) To further broad-base the English category, we’ve successfully ventured out with our original productions like The Stage, Vogue BFF and others. We are driving awareness through never-seen-before campaigns, tactical activations and content-around-content for social media. This concerted effort of the team makes for a promising time ahead.

Your marketing initiatives have been innovative. How are these marketing campaigns helping you connect with the audiences?

The modern viewer is sensitive towards the societal issues surrounding them. A growing number of people are acknowledging the food and water wastage that is rampant in urban India and they want to do something about it. We have always done things differently; to break the clutter for our culinary slot Eat@8(assortment of popular shows like Couples Come Dine with Me, My Kitchen Rule and Junior Bake Off) we initiated #SayNoToFoodWastage in partnership with The Robinhood Army’s Mumbai chapter. Under this initiative, the unused/unserved edible and hygienic food is collected from partnering corporate canteens and restaurants and redistributed to the less privileged in the vicinity. This small initiative is a humble tribute to our righteous viewers who inspire us every day and help us stay relevant.

Given that Pitch Please is a digital campaign, how critical is social media convergence with traditional television?

As there is so much content out there, the consumer is spoilt for choice and they’re only interested in entertainment relevant to their taste. For this fast-evolving consumer, social media has become an indispensable touchpoint. Our campaigns are in sync with our consumers’ consumption habits and hence we draw our viewers from social media too. TV viewing has become a two-way dialogue worldwide. Therefore social media and traditional television will actually reinforce each other, as television supplies good content and social media aids the conversation, sharing and feedback.

Could you describe how you came up with a campaign centered around Eat@8 wherein you have come up with a 360 degree promotional plan? Please tell us more about the campaign and how it will allow the brand to resonate with audiences.

Our endeavor is to own spaces in the viewers’ mind. With a culinary block, we looked at building a habit by covering every aspect and touch point around the passion for food. We created an assortment of the most popular culinary drama shows under the Eat@8 banner, which includes international hits like Couples Come Dine with Me, My Kitchen Rules and Junior Bake Off, airing on weekdays at 8 pm leading into dinner. While our television and radio campaign was designed to drive awareness and tune-in, we created a lot of content for on-air and social media featuring renowned Indian chefs and restaurateurs who spoke about their culinary passion and shared food tips. We have also partnered with premium kitchens across the country including Le 15, Palate Culinary Studio, Gourmet Desires and many more in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore over the next 4 months, to conduct culinary workshops for those passionate about their food. For Junior Bake Off, we have partnered with Kidzania for parent-child bonding sessions over cooking and food. We are also activating the campaign across 200 colleges pan India through contests and live pizza-making sessions across big college festivals. We hope to engage better with our audiences through these initiatives, as they are our best ambassadors to spread the good word.

Colors Infinity is showcasing brand new seasons of various shows, airing them almost simultaneously as they would in, say, the US. How do you plan your marketing campaigns based on the new shows that you air?

News about new and upcoming shows travel fast, thanks to the internet. Since we air the biggest shows close to the International premiere, our campaigns need to be in sync with the international timelines and hence we plan accordingly. However, we tweak the campaign communication to make it relevant for the Indian audiences. So yes, we have to be nimble and adaptive.

Shark Tank has been gaining popularity in India ever since its launch last year. Could you share with us details of the marketing campaign that went along with it (you had tied up with select institutions to fuel entrepreneurship and creativity, for instance; tied up with Cafe Coffee Day; how did all these tie-ups help? Our readers would love more details on it.

We have been passionately building the Shark Tank franchisee in India, since we really believe in fostering the start-up culture here. We have progressively pushed our boundaries by creating activities and content around Shark Tank, which not only promotes the tune-in but also aids the start-up scene. Over and above the mainline campaign, we undertook a lot of special partnerships and initiative to push the envelope for the start-up culture. Colors Infinity partnered with NASSCOM to support Innotrek 2017, where one deserving start-up was chosen from over 100 entries, for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rub shoulders with teams at Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Stanford at Silicon Valley! Colors Infinity also partnered with Forbes for to groom budding entrepreneurs for the perfect pitch under the Get Pitch Ready initiative. We also partnered with Ketto, to campaign for crowdfunding deserving entrepreneurial ideas. We partnered with IIM Bangalore’s Bzzwings for the second year running, to aid budding entrepreneurs. Besides this, we did a host of Facebook Lives with VCs and entrepreneurs and associated with many start-up conferences which got us very encouraging response online. We are grateful to our viewers for receiving the show so well and encouraging our campaign initiatives all along.

What sort of research is conducted before you embark on marketing initiatives for the channel? How often are they rolled out?

We have a robust research process based on BARC data and social media analytics, which acts as the feedback loop not just for our campaigns but for the overall brand too. We also commission in-depth research periodically so that we always have our ears on the ground.

Given that marketing initiatives and campaigns are so integral to a brand's growth, what role should agencies play according to you for the growth of a brand? How should the brand and agencies seamlessly sync for better results?

We believe that our agencies are partners in our growth, as the results are felt by both either ways. We are always seeking a fresh perspective from our agencies, which we didn’t think of. While the agencies push the creative and media boundaries, they should be cognizant of the brand’s business vision and current realities. We need to be nimble with the brand, to accommodate the changing taste of the consumer as well as emerging business realities.

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