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Exclusive | Da Vinci Learning promises education+fun: Monomita Mukhopadhyay

It was about a year ago that the announcement of a new channel in the kids genre was done. Da Vinci Learning then was in the initial stage of completing all the legal and other duties of licensing etc. While channel officials state that the expected receipt of the broadcast license in August 2014, they are gearing up to launch the channel by October the same year.

Adgully caught up with Monomita Mukhopadhyay, Marketing Director at Da Vinci Learning to know about the pre-launch marketing plans, content strategy and more.

Right at the onset, while industry went abuzz with comparisons of Da Vinci Learning with other channels already in the present in India, Mukhopadhyay states that they are different.  Speaking on how she foresees the market, as there are quite a few players in the kids genre, she said, “I strongly feel that we are very different from others in the game, and that is evident with our content, which is education with fun. Though we are entering the kids space, we promise viewers that it is a complete family channel. While the content may remain similar throughout the day, its delivery will be more parent-oriented towards the later hours of the day. We are developing shows around subjects like science, history etc and bringing different unknown facts of the subjects to the screens. For example, we shall have small science experiments being conducted where not only is the kid delighted to perform, but this, we believe will also engage the parent in learning and participating in the process of learning. Also, the topics we would cover are not restricted to bookish information, but we are also looking at trivia’s across subjects like culture, history, geography, mathematics etc. Our content strategy will be more inclusive in nature”.

Elaborating further on the kind of content at Da Vinci Learning and the initial response they ahve received from advertisers, Mukhopadhyay said, “We have associated ourselves with Fourth Dimension who will do the ad sales bit for us and the first rounds of meeting in Mumbai and Bangalore have been quite positive. While a lot of people say that there a lot of players already in the market and they don’t see the need for another one; we believe that we will be different. Our competitors have Japanese animation dubbed in bad Hindi, some have intelligent content but dull presentation etc, but at Da Vinci Learning you would see a delightful mix of animation with documentary-style presentation alongside live-action and fun. We are very cautious of the language used in our scripts and the body-language of the characters on screen so as to do away with derogatory tone and mannerisms like others. The idea is to be entertaining while being informative. Thus keeping in mind a child’s short attention span, our programming is such that we don’t create anything beyond 10-15 minutes”.

She states that the channel has almost 450 hours of fresh content in the library for India (international content adopted for India) and above that is adding around 10 – 18 hours of India-produced content; however, this ratio may vary when they launch.

Mukhopadhyay mentions that today, the Kids genre garners the 3rd highest viewership on Indian television and that itself is testimony to the enormous importance of this genre within the television eco system. The genre has especially registered a spurt in growth both in terms of viewership and reach post digitization. Speaking about the need they felt for a channel like this in India, she said, “Our extensive research suggested that there is a void in the kids genre in India which needs to be filled in for. We have records of parents suggesting that there is a need for educative and informative channels that the ‘fun’ running throughout.”

She cites that their research fining suggested that a lot of competitors in the genre in India are doing pre-school stuff, they decided to focus on and target the age group of 6 – 12 years along with their parents as well! 

According to their research, over 370 million kids under the age of 14-years are discerning viewers. According to a recent FICCI-KPMG report, Hindi and Regional GECs continued to be the key drivers of television viewership, accounting for 48 per cent of total viewership in 2013. The Kids genre in particular witnessed growth and its viewership stood at 7.5 per cent in 2013.

The channel has already begun its pre-launch marketing activities which are quite extensive in nature. Starting 15th July 2014, the channel will bring in branded blocks on Siticable and DigiCable for 6 and 12 months respectively. The channel has also struck a Video-on-demand deal with Airtel Digital TV and is in talks with Tata Sky as well. “When we say branded block we mean that we have a playlist on exclusive Da Vinci content, which will be played in the particular time slot selected on every Sunday morning till the deal lasts. Also, we are not sharing content and thus offer exclusive content to each of these operators.” she said.

“We are also doing another activity, basically in print where we are sharing content with a school magazine called ‘Primary Plus’, which have  ties up 2000 schools across the top 12 metros in India. The cost of the magazine in included in the larger fee structure which the parent may not realise, while their child get entertaining educated. While this is the first phase of the activity, going forward we may have a standalone magazine in India, like we do in our other markets like Turkey, Poland and the Eastern Europe, etc. Though it may be priced a little higher, we believe that as there is a dearth or absence of magazine dedicated to kids only, we see a great opportunity there! Apart from that, almost all the activities that we do across other markets, will be replicated here in India as well”, she added.

Sharing the thoughts and plans on merchandising at the channel, Mukhopadhyay said, “Merchandising is also a point of focus for us, where a lot of thought is put into what is the item and how it can be converted to an informative piece. Also, we are focusing on owning the IP rights for all the shows we air, thus enabling to business further thrust to additional businesses at the channel like merchandising”.

Adding further to the marketing plans and initiatives undertaken, she said, “We also have an app available on the Apple I-pad called Dr. Wise, which acts as a guide to your child’s day-to-day learning process”.

Apart from these, the channel believes that a strong connect can also be generated by on-ground activities. “One of the on-ground activities we did in Hungry was generating battery out of 380 kgs of lemon was a huge success. For this, we tied up with a local university, where professors and students together performed this experiment which is now registered in the Guinness World Record. We are also looking at replicating it here in India to give the to-be-launched channel the necessary visibility”, she elaborated.

The channel is also looking at running a contest where the bunch of winner will get to experience ‘A night in a Museum’ and here also, all the kids will get the ‘Da Vinci’ feeling where they will be offered merchandise like sleeping bags, dairies, etc.  

Speaking about the ad-rates the channel is looking at, Mukhopadhyay said that they have not decided anything as yet, though it may be the at-power pricing they may be looking at. “However, I believe it may turn out to be lesser than the current rates by other channels, at least for the first year of operation, since we believe that there is no point in creating that kind of hype till the channel generates that desired traction”, she added.

When asked about Advertiser Funded Programmes, she mantions that while that may not be a priority as off now; they have that thought in placed in their agenda going forward and are definitely open to partnering to create and deliver interesting and unusual content.

Da Vinci Learning starting in Eastern Europe, CIS countries, Russia and Turkey, is today present also in multiple countries in South-east Asia like Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore while they shall be launching in South Korea as well sometime soon. The channel globally has about 17 feeds available, they are primarily looking at an English launch in India, initially and then may move to multiple language feeds going ahead, staring with Hindi. Will this act not alienate the channel as an upmarket channel (as a lot of kids in India do not understand English very well)? “Not really! Parents in India, whether English-educated or not, always want their children to communicate in English and that is another thought we picked up from our research. Also, there are some things, for example, Newton’s Law, Pythagoras Theorem etc.  which cannot be communicated to in any other language and even if done in a regional India language; it complicates the understanding process even more!”, she cited.

While the team is not decided as yet on creating a mascot for the channel; she said that as they are still in the initial stages of creating content, but going ahead they may look into this aspect of the business as well. Speaking about bringing a celebrity to endorse the channel, as she cited concern of the cost of doing this, she also mentioned that they are not looking for a celebrity brand ambassador, but are looking for an educationist to be the face of the channel.  

As part of the core leadership team of the company in India, Mukhopadhyay’s charter is to create a World class brand for the flagship TV channel “Da Vinci Learning” for the company. She is responsible for building out and executing on the launch of the channel in India. An astute and seasoned Marketing and Communications professional, she has deep insights into emerging consumer trends and behavioral patterns. Combined with her deep relationships with a cross section of media outlets, she brings a unique combination to the table. Her understanding of how a brand needs to evolve and the brand journey that is required to build a strong brand in the dynamic Indian market place is unparalleled.

Prior to this Monomita led the Public Relations and Marketing Communications function for Belkin across the Indian Sub-Continent. As part of the leadership team at Belkin  India, she led the charge for enhancing and building the Belkin brand across all communication mediums and media platforms. She joined Belkin in 2011 and was instrumental in ensuring that Belkin’s brand presence in the media space is articulated and presented holistically.

Prior to her current role at Belkin, Monomita has been associated with the ABP Group in Kolkata. She has also been associated with brands across various verticals such as Lafarge, PCS and WDC and handled multi-faceted roles and responsibilities. A culinary expert, Monomita specializes in experimenting with cuisines from across the world. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and has done her Master’s in Business Administration with specialization in Marketing & Human Resources.

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