Sony Pix aims at rising with Skyfall

17 Oct,2013


By Fatema Rajkotwala


Multi Screen Media’s English movie channel offering Sony Pix has announced a comprehensive brand repositioning to be unveiled to coincide with the premiere of the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall. Announcing the channel’s upcoming plans, Saurabh Yagnik, Executive Vice President and Business Head, Sony Pix spoke to MxMIndia on the new brand philosophy, the channel’s way forward and what viewers can expect in the months to come.


Brand Makeover

Players in the English movie channel category in India have admittedly been fighting it out for the top spot and market share. Since 2000, the space has expanded and seen new entrants, HD channel offerings and even niche channels in the Action or now romance-comedy genre. While the top players – Star Movies, HBO, Movies Now and Sony Pix – continue to claim up to 75 per cent of the market pie, Mr Yagnik pointed out that there is little brand association and differentiation to help viewers recall one channel’s movie properties from another. With most channels promising to be another version of a Hollywood movie destination, Sony Pix feels that there is a need for a fresh approach to branch out to its viewers.


The channel’s market research has brought other key insights to the forefront, which has helped shape the brand’s new philosophy. The channel has observed an increase in time spent and consumption on the category post-digitization.


Talking about Sony Pix’s new brand promise, Mr Yagnik said that the channel will aim to entertain and excite in the way Hollywood does with its new logo, on-air look and tagline, “Stay Amazed”. The new logo uses an adventurous colour theme of blue and the in-vogue ‘neon green’ to move away from conventional colours of the genre and make a fresh connection with the youth.  Big titles, innovative programming with a relevance to the youth, strengthened library tie-ups, cooler promos and a brand new look will be the key differentiators for Sony Pix in the months to come.


The 1pm and 9pm slots on Sunday October 29 are marked for the showcasing of the Skyfall television premiere on the channel. Heavy marketing promotional efforts, across both traditional and new media, are underway to generate conversations and engagement among viewers. The high grossing Bond movie has been picked as a platform for the channel’s new branding launch by correlating the movie’s theme where Bond makes a comeback with a bang. Currently, three teaser promos are on air around Skyfall, to be revealed on the premiere day. The channel has also partnered with actor Hrithik Roshan for an integrated campaign with Krissh 3 to further promote the new brand identity.


Said Mr Yagnik, “Ten channels pose a lot of clutter. We are constantly evaluating market opportunities. Unless we believe there is compelling differentiation, we do not want to offer something unless it is what we think the market requires based on our consumer understanding. Fundamentally, what is most important is if the consumer views one as different from the other.”


Social Media to the fore

Acknowledging the undeniable need for presence on social media to connect with viewers, Sony Pix is extending its efforts to stand out not only on-air but even on social media. The channel has announced an online avatar, Notty Pixy, a character that will represent the channel on online platforms and talk about Hollywood trivia to differentiate its Facebook and Twitter engagement. The character will also be given an on-air slot on Fridays in the month of November to integrate the platform across media.


According to Sony Pix’s marketing head Neville Bastawala, the Facebook developed app will see viewers through three levels of ‘biggest secret mission’ contest at the end of which the winner will win a trip to the ‘Bond in Motion’ Ashton Martin exhibition in London. The channel’s social media campaign offering around Skyfall will also engage consumers through Twitter.


In defence of contest-based efforts for engagement on social media, Mr Yagnik said that one of the focuses of the channel is to build a Hollywood eco-system to bring it closer for Indian audiences, “We are not looking at armchair engagement; we are aiming at active, differentiated engagement where we want people to come and talk. Even internationally you will find bursts of social media engagement or the other kind where the brand’s personality comes alive through social media. We cannot discount the power of social media because the conversations are a fertile ground for consumer insights. I see it as an extension of the brand’s personality. While there may be many ways of engagement, our social media focus is about differentiation, creating compelling property and encouraging interactivity.”


Some may argue that English movie channels continue to bank on blockbusters and crowd favourites while considering franchise picks to add to their library. Since 2008, the top viewed movies on television have undoubtedly been Avatar, Amazing Spiderman, Men in Black 3, Iron Man etc. How long till we see unconventional movies on English movie channels as opposed to ‘popular’ or ‘blockbuster’ movies that present a lower risk and larger crowd pull, we asked Mr Yagnik. “We have plans to but there are two challenges involved, the first being that we are judged by relative share and in an advertising-based business model, where TVTs and market share are important. It is also to be remembered that for an English movie channel what also matters is the brand’s perception. We will consciously work on both and not just on viewership. We will not compromise perception just because of viewership. We believe in maintaining diversity of movie genres and an equitable genre skew as opposed to showing only action or male-centric movies. If you package a cult movie well, people will consume it if they get the feeling of ‘wow’ or ‘cool’.”


In the upcoming months, viewers can expect to see Sony Pix’s new on-air look, Pixathons – movie marathons on various movie sequels, social media campaigns and contests and juicy gossip from Notty Pixy and PIX Premiere Night – exclusive red carpet screenings for viewers in four cities.


While the English movie channel genre may be cluttered, clearly the Pix attempt is to break through the clutter and wow viewers with action on the telly. And elsewhere.


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