Bigg Boss is Back. Long Live Bigg Boss!

06 Oct,2020

 

By Bhuvi Gupta

 

Bhuvi GuptaBigg Boss Hindi, by far India’s biggest reality TV show, came back on TV last weekend, after having been delayed by over a month due to compulsory quarantines for its participants. While there were no stops put on the accompanying media blitz, the launch attracts and manufactures, this year there is an increased focus on digital rather than traditional media whose consumption has dropped on account of the lockdown.

 

This lockdown has given us all a bird’s eye view of what living in the Bigg Boss house is like – rationed food (because you cant keep stepping outside to grocery shop), stuck with the same people day in and day out with some amount of conflict (have you ever spent such an extended period of time with your family), household chores division (after some negotiation to ensure its equitable), video calls with higher authorities who designate your priorities (yes bosses on Zoom, that is you). The only thing missing is evictions and if conversations with fellow countrymen are to be believed, that is the one feature which most of us need!

 

Jokes apart, Bigg Boss or Big Brother, (as its internationally known) is the most successful global reality TV franchise with editions in 60+ countries. India itself has seven different versions of the show, and most have had record-breaking TRPs in their respective markets.

 

I personally have always been a fan of the show, and try to balance keeping up with every season while not getting too hooked. Since Viacom’s OTT service, Voot started hosting unseen footage on Season 10 in 2016; this has become an increasingly harder hard task!  I have several explanations for why I am so invested in the show, every year without fail –

 

The Format

While Bigg Boss is a reality show, and like all reality shows is edited to create heroes and villains, the social experiment which blocks all outside communication makes it a unique forbidden window into human behavior, which makes it fascinating. New twists are thrown in every season, which makes the show unpredictable and hence never boring. Despite being more than a decade old, Bigg Boss has kept up with changing technology and media consumption powered by the internet. The audience can now can watch unseen footage on Voot Select, interact with contestants live, use Bigg Boss filters on pictures and much more. The various supporting elements help make the show engaging across different age groups and media preferences.

 

It is a marketer’s delight

From a marketer’s perspective, Bigg Boss is and has been a great vehicle for brand marketing. While there are many good reality shows, it is the only show that keeps interest in the show alive all through its 100+ day run. This is driven by a consistent 360-degree PR and media blitz, evolving show twists and really no rules. This ensures viewership and a RoI estimated to be 3-5 times the (high) investment for brands.

 

This media blitz ensures that even vanilla FCT advertising and associate sponsorship options help drive brand recall. For brands with smaller budgets, the flexible show format makes brand integrations, which can include in-house product placement and branded tasks, seamless.  There is also product demonstration due to on-screen engagement of actors with the product during branded tasks, and audience engagement on voting during that week which make each integration a unique value proposition.

 

Screen grab from ‘Kurkure Vigyapan Mein Chatpatapan’ episode of Bigg Boss 13

 

One of my favourite integrations from last season was  ‘Kurkure Vigyapan Mein Chatpatapan’, where contestants were divided into groups and tasked with making ads promoting Kurkure. It was simple, and yet brilliant. Can you imagine any other brand integration where the brand advertisement with celebrity endorsers gets promoted continuously as content?

 

Promotes Diversity & Inclusiveness

Former adult star Sunny Leone became a mainstream Bollywood actress because of her stint on Bigg Boss 5

 

The show has been a great vehicle for promoting diversity and acceptance in our conservative Indian society. Since the very first season, the show has regularly hosted contestants, who are ‘different’. While the objective is eyeballs, the show gives a platform to those marginalised making them human beyond their taboo relationship, sexuality or profession which in turn make the audience more accepting of them. The biggest example of this acceptance is Sunny Leone. It would not be presumptuous to say that the former porn star transcended her previous persona to gain acceptance as a mainstream Bollywood actress only due to her stint on Bigg Boss.  Bobby Darling from Season 1, Sushant Divgikar, Mr. Gay India 2014 from Bigg Boss 8 are a few other examples, of people from the marginalised LGBTQ community who have helped make the trials and tribulations the community faces more visible.

 

As the skyrocketing news television ratings on coverage of the relentless hounding of movie stars over the Sushant Singh Rajput case proves, the voyeur in us is alive and kicking. And with the interest in the case waning, I wont be surprised to see the news audience shift focus to Bigg Boss. The lockdown has only made our voyeuristic urges stronger and I wont be surprised if Bigg Boss 14 breaks previously held records this year.

 

Bhuvi Gupta is a marketer with over 10 years across industries, of which the last six have been in Media & Entertainment. She has been a part of many launch marketing campaigns – specifically at the Times of India group, Republic TV and the latest in marketing a Bollywood film. She writes on A&M (mostly marketing, but often on advertising too) every other Tuesday. Her views here are personal. She tweets at @bhuvigupta3

 

 

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