Exclusive | Innovation is the key in this cluttered market: AXN's Butalia

If thrills, action, speed, drama, are choices for television entertainment then AXN promises you to keep your taste buds happy! The English GEC has come in charged to woo its audiences with a mix of various genres with shows like Top Gear, Supernatural Season 9 and the new member on the block, The Hero.

While in conversation with Adgully, Arpit Mankar, Programming Head, AXN and Himmat Butalia, Marketing Director, AXN talk about these shows and the various activities done on digital and social platform for the same.

Three of the channel’s big ticket shows are already on air; though The Hero is a premiering show, Top Gear and Supernatural 9 have been on the block for a while and successful as well. Telling us about the rationale behind these shows running simultaneously on air, Mankar said, “The BIG Thrills Friday line-up aims to bring the latest seasons of dramas, thrillers and reality shows close to their US telecast. The common factor between Supernatural, Top Gear and Hero is that they are all edgy, thrilling shows. They have been scheduling at the right time slot keeping in mind the core target audience likely to watch the show.”  The channel has tasted success with Top Gear, which in the 20th season and Supernatural in the 9th season. On being queried whether do they see the 'series' format is fitting the AXN audience's needs and demands, Mankar opined, “AXN has always believed in identifying the right shows for its audience and bringing them back year on year. Supernatural is in its ninth season, So You Think You Can Dance starting Nov 4th will see its 10th season, The Amazing Race will soon premiere its 23rd season on AXN. This creates loyalty of viewership as viewers want to come back for more. The ‘series’ or ‘seasons’ format is well accepted by Indian viewers, now with even Hindi channels adapting this format.”

With the series format and the season - on - season telecast happening on the channel, when questioned as to whether these shows are a move to bring in more connectivity with their target audience and build enough excitement for them, Butalia stated, “AXN has always strived to bring in the most thrilling and latest content to its viewers, be it So you Think u can dance ,Top Gear and The Hero (Dwayne the ‘Rock’ Johnson) in terms of reality and the best of international series like Supernatural, CSI and Orphan Black. We have a special line-up for the Diwali season called ‘Diwali Dhoom’ that will have three shows premiering on Nov 4th starting with SYTYCD ( 8 pm), Chosen (9pm) and Sherlock (9:30 pm) to get viewers glued to AXN”.

The channel aims at the top 8 metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad and Chennai for these properties. Since the shows lined-up are an unusual mix its need to be conveyed appropriately to its audiences. “AXN has some of the biggest series/reality shows both in terms of scale and quality, which needs to be communicated to both the trade and consumers. This was also the brief to our media agencies”, Butalia said.

Speaking about the marketing mix for promoting these properties or key shows on the channel, Butalia said, “We have chosen a wide gamut of marketing tools. We have done bus panel branding, TOI innovative butterfly cover 4 page ad, YouTube first-watch, trade mailers and done some very innovative social media campaigns.

Stating some of the activities that have been done on the social and digital platform, Butalia said, “Over the past month, AXN has been one of the ‘buzziest’ brands in social media trending at least once week with unique initiatives.

Illustrating a few key highlights of the activities, Butalia said, “The first one was Supernatural Fantasy Plot where for the first time in India, fans get a chance to take over a brand’s twitter handle. AXN India endowed fans of the most anticipated show of the year, Supernatural Season 9, an opportunity to tweet with the official AXN India twitter handle for a day. The hashtag #SPN9onAXN trended on Twitter at #2 Position in India, reaching out to 46,300 people and garnering 7,01,200 exposures was also endorsed by Twitter as a best practice for building engagement. ‘Supernatural Fantasy Plotline’ was carried over a period of 4 days wherein fans started sharing thrilling and gripping plots for the Winchester Brothers from where season 8 let off. While Indian fans were waiting to know what is in store for them with the new season, AXN gave them a chance a build their own Supernatural Fantasy Plotline. With this innovative social media campaign, we became the first brand in India to provide its fans ownership of its brand channel.”

Speaking about the other two atypical campaigns done by the channel with their shows ‘The Voice’ and ‘The Hero’, Butalia said, “Another unusual case I would like to bring to light is AXN Voice Day which was in the light to celebrate the launch of the latest season of EMMY award winning reality show ‘The Voice’. We held a unique activity on Twitter where fans had to tweet using lyrics. On Facebook, all the show posts were given a lyrical twist. The other highlighting activity was AXN -SOS a Hero, which was done ahead of the premiere of ‘The Hero’ hosted by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. We urged people in distress to tweet their day to day woes and sticky situations to us and AXN India replied to each and one Twitterati who tweeted to us asking us to save the day. This was a one of its kind initiative wherein the brands focus was on increasing the bond with the fan by delighting him with a surprise in the hour of the need by trying to a Hero for them.”

Talking about the focus on innovation in their ad campaigns alongside the regular 360 degree campaign, Butalia opined, “Innovation is key in this day and age to get high traction for; since there is so much of clutter in the market, which is why both on our print and digital medium we went the innovative route. In print we have a bevy of enthralling upcoming and ongoing properties, so the TOI butterfly innovation was used to give the readers a full view of the offerings while maintaining each property’s originality and uniqueness. The idea was to create a big bang with the reveal of our year’s biggest properties all at one go. This would be converting into more sampling of these upcoming properties month after month; while social media efforts are as mentioned above.”


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