Star India has just rebranded its leading Hindi movie channel Star Gold in great style, unveiling the new logo during the premier of the blockbuster Singham on the channel. Its new avatar is characterized by differentiated programming and strategies. Showcasing more movies in a day, reducing advertising duration, airing more world TV premieres and an aggressive plan to purchase yet-to-be released blockbusters are some of the stated objectives of the rebranding exercise. Here are excerpts from a conversation with Hemal Jhaveri, Vice-President, Star Gold.
What will be at the heart of the Star Gold rebranding exercise? What will be the defined changes?
Star Gold is a brand that has always challenged itself to be the category leader. The journey so far has been a well chalked-out one in terms of how we have evolved the brand in the last six-seven months. We were the first ones to implement changes which our competition is following. We were the first to play five movies a day. We have made tremendous investments in our content and can now boast of the best movie library in the country - be it recent releases such as Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara or Bodyguard to ones yet to be released like Rockstar. And there is more to come.
Can you elaborate on the channel’s new ideology ‘Follow the Heart’? What will be the differentiation with respect to other channels?
We as a brand believe that one can succeed even if one has flaws as there is no rigid formula to win. It’s very important to fall to get up. The world might be black and white but there are different shades of grey in it. So, through our content we are going to tell our viewers to follow their heart. Also, it is more to do with how we will behave as a brand in the future where we’ll try our best to challenge status quo and change the game in the category.
There was a lot of buzz around Singham premiering on Star Gold. You had started with premiering expensive movies some years earlier, but discontinued it. So how do you see it going this time?
We have always been showing blockbusters, but people had a perception of the old movie channel lingering in their minds. But we hope to change that.
Reducing advertising duration is one of your stated objectives. How do you explain this, especially as you are expected to make huge money from highly priced ad spots during the telecast of films like Singham and Bodyguard, which would still be in the cinemas at the time of telecast?
An advertiser’s main aim is to get the product to the viewer. If we as broadcasters don’t take the viewer as a fool, there shouldn’t be any problem. It’s a broadcaster’s responsibility to enhance the experience of the viewer. The biggest complaint viewers had from the Hindi movie channels is that of long breaks. We have tried various experiments to address this. Some have worked and some haven’t.
The Hindi movie audience does not constitute the top end of the TG spectrum as far as advertisers are concerned. How does that relate vis-avis airing expensive movies?
Besides advertisers, there are other mediums of revenue too. However, budgets are becoming more and more unaffordable given the nature of the movie market. We have syndication rights which we sell and we have other streams of revenue. But obviously they don’t constitute as much as advertising.
What will be the programming strategy? Are you looking at keeping aside particular time slots for a particular TG, while airing movies from different genres like youth movies, kids’ movies and adult movies?
It’s going to be a combo of everything. It’s going to be something which gives us the maximum viewers. We are working towards a mix – action and comedy – because these genres are universal. And of course, good family movies as well. However, one tends to forget that as a movie channel, we don’t control the quality of a movie. We just make diligent choices to control quality.
How do you plan to leverage the three fronts – content, marketing and distribution - to ensure maximum benefit for the channel?
On the marketing front, it is critical to know the product and as for content, it’s a mix of Star Gold content and new ones.
How do you expect to tackle the competition between Hindi movie channels and Hindi GECs in the same space for weekend programming, especially when they show blockbuster movies?
GECs will continue to show movies and so will the movie channels. But it’s the viewer who will make the choice about the content he wants to watch. And if a broadcaster knows this then it will continue to work on a strategy to stay ahead in the game.
What are your marketing initiatives? What is the media mix you have decided on to support the rebranding?
It’s a mix of outdoor, on-air, radio and theatres as well. We actually broke the Singham communication during screening of Bodyguard in theatres. Every movie or communication will be tweaked to match the content. The idea is to have a dynamic and evolving brand because when you become stagnant, everybody forgets you.
What are the investments involved in the rebranding exercise?
We did a lot of work in-house, and got an agency – Dynamic Design – to help us in our rebranding. A lot of research was done before we planned to re-launch. Also, we have to evolve according to what the market demands.