Maximising on Bond way for life:Saurabh Yagnik

11 Dec,2014

By A Correspondent


The world of movie channels have a peculiar problem. There are over half a dozen players, all waiting to break the clutter. And chasing the same audiences, showing similar fare. The challenge then is to look and feel different to viewers. And this is what Sony Pix from the Multi Screen Media stable has been trying to achieve in the last year-odd. That’s how we came up with this entire clutter-breaking packaging and communication, says Saurabh Yagnik, Saurabh Yagnik, Executive Vice-president and Business Head, Sony PIX & AXN India, in an interview, adding: “This got embodied in the words Stay Amazed!”


“The desired response we want from our viewers is that its wow, cool and entertainment with a twist. Whenever we try to do something, we always try to pass through this muster,” says Mr Yagnik, highlighting the success of the ‘Pix School of Bonding’ campaign with tennis ace Sania Mirza.


The challenge for the Bond franchise, says Mr Yagnik, was to “sustain the relevance of a 50-year iconic franchise for today’s youth”.  Bond films had changed hands across some three channels, and the challenge for the Pix thinktank was to create something different. “After our research, one thing we found consistent across Bond films was not the girls, gadgets and gizmos but his evergreen Bond attitude! That’s what we want to bring alive through this proposition. This attitude is relevant to a viewer from a 1962 Dr No right up to Skyfall.”


Thus started the Sania Mirza campaign from November 22 and is scheduled for 12 weeks. Excerpts from a conversation with Saurabh Yagnik:

It’s unusual to get a tennis star like Sania Mirza to promote a James Bond movie. Was it an easy task to get her onto this… was she your first choice?

I think she was top of the notch. She was bang on, our first choice and when we presented this idea to her, she also liked it, because it was showing a very different aspect of her onscreen which people hadn’t seen before.


Why this craze for Bond that all our movie channels have. Does Bond still have a pull?And do you think the current festival will help you get to the No 1 or No 2 which you lost recently?

Absolutely, Bond movies rate very well on television. We want people to look at the Bond franchise in a very different manner. Ratings are cyclical, there are ups and downs, what is required is to have a consistent and a robust strategy based on a deep understanding of a viewer which we believe those pieces are in place for our business.


Tell us about the Stay Amazed positioning. Has it worked for you?

It’s worked very well. It has created a distinct differentiation for us, it brought us into the Top 2 and for many weeks we were No 1. When we look at all measures including brand tracks, ratings data etc, they both show us that things are very positive for the channel.


But there’s competition from the various other Hollywood channels, from NVODs and DTH channels plus the premium HD channels which carry no ads.

Competition is coming in more ways than one. Theatre is one competition, Digital, PPV model that DTH operators have, premium services that are being offered… When you talk about channels like ours, they are significantly lower priced compared to the pricing one has to pay for a PPV viewership of a movie or for a premium channel which is ad-free.


What will eventually happen is that a new segment will get created with the right volume and the right mix which is the premium segment where affluent audiences will keep paying for better services. I don’t think we have come to a state where we have critical mass and the right mix to make a viable proposition out of a premium service, but it will evolve over a period of time. English movies in this country is still less than 1.5% of all television. So there’s a lot of headroom for growth.


What’s coming up next on Pix after the 12 weeks of Bond?

Raid 2, Amazing Spiderman 2, Hercules… We’ve also acquired the Star Wars franchise. Because of the width and depth of the Marvel franchise that we have, we’ll do something around that as well.


Will any of these have promos like you’ve done with Sania Mirza?

There’ll be differentiation. You can’t be predictable in what you do. It’s about how you create those twists. Everything won’t be in a similar template. Each of our campaigns have been very different in clutter breaking and that’s what our attempt will be.


We had Rocky Pixathon when Mary Kom was happening, it was a great brand fit. We had Priyanka Chopra talking about Rocky as the hero… a hero across all times inspires generations. Watch Rocky Pixathon on Sony Pix and watch Mary Kom in theatres was the joint promotion that happened which beautifully brought out the essence of both Mary Kom and Rocky.


 A promotion like this costs top dollars. The brand ambassador, the media you’ve used… do the returns from revenues or sponsorships take care of the marketing monies or is it more of a long-term view for the channel?

The objective is to ensure you get maximum out of the property itself and we’d like to break even within the property itself and we’re closer to that when we look at the way we’re spending versus the kind of monies we are making. The important thing is not to look at a standalone profitability of a property, but to see its impact in the overall brand.


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