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Perception plays an important role in our genre: Vishnu Shankar on Zing

Vishnu Shankar, Business Head of Zing and ZEtc, speaks about infusing some fresh energy into Zing’s content line-up as well as the high decibel marketing campaign kicked off recently, featuring actress Shraddha Kapoor.

What is the campaign all about?
January onwards, Zing has been No. 1 in its genre. In this fiscal, we are going to scale up the channel and add more content; we will be launching one fiction and one non-fiction show to expand our horizon. We are launching a new season of ‘Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya’. Zing is one of the most popular youth channels, so it is a good time to undertake a 360-degree high decibel marketing campaign ahead of launching the new content.

What is the name of your new fiction show?
It’s called ‘Aye Zindagi’.

What is the size of the youth genre?
We operate in the TG of 15-30 years old in HSM and this genre garners approximately 30 GRPs weekly.

Last year, ‘Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya’ broke quite a few records. Did the show’s success surprise you? Or was it a calculated risk on your part?
Well, I wouldn’t call it a calculated risk. We did a lot of research ahead of the show’s launch, so we were extremely confident that this kind of content will be well-accepted.

Do you think the show’s content was a bit too edgy for the Indian audiences?
‘Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya’ was always focused towards the youth, but at the same time we kept the content relatable. So it struck the right chord with the right audience and they reciprocated in kind. When we initially launched the show, we left it open to debate. However, we did not leave the ending open-ended.

After the first and second seasons, we started changing the stories. There’s a situation, a hurdle that the guy overcomes…and then a happy ending. So we started showing that the problem itself may be the solution.

We realised that the youth was being portrayed in a reckless and edgy fashion and that is where we thought love and positivity would work, and we brought in our flagship show ‘Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya’, where we showcased love stories which were fresh and had a romantic and youthful connect. These were far removed from the blood and gore that was being popularly shown.

Which production house was behind the show?
Lost Boy Productions.

What was the brief shared with Lost Boy regarding the show?
My brief was very simple...showcase love as the most powerful tool which can overcome all adversities.

What was being shown was all about drugs, love stories with tragic endings, youth going haywire. I asked why are we so negative when it comes to youth, this is not what always happens. There is so much that the young generation is achieving – setting up start-ups, being talented, successful, confident, smart and responsible. For instance, in our love story suppose a guy falls in love and the girl gets pregnant, he’s not going to abandon her. Instead, he will find a job and take on the responsibility of the girl and his child. These kind of stories were never told. These are positive youth stories.

Given the short attention span of the youth and the many options available, how do you hold their attention and keep them engaged?
Through our storytelling. And like I said, there is a positive side to our stories, which I don’t see anyone else doing. The youth today is very different from what they used to be. While they portray themselves as cool and edgy, when it comes to matters of the heart simplicity still rules.

What about bringing in the celebrity factor in your shows?
If my show needs a celebrity, I will get a celebrity. If the celebrity brings something to the table and enhances the show, then definitely yes. ‘Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya’ is hosted by well-known faces on television like Karan Kundra, Miyang Chang, and Surbhi Jyoti. They are the kind of people who have credibility and youth connect and when they talk, the youth listens.

When you did the first season of ‘Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya’, there was no rural-urban differentiation in BARC viewership data. How are you looking at the introduction of this differentiated data in the youth GEC space?
With the introduction of rural data, the scenario has broadened. The aspirations of the youth in rural areas are high and evolving.

Today, the rural television consumption is high and thus, plays a crucial role in terms of viewership.

Perception plays a very important role in our genre, so we will try and keep that going content wise.

Are you looking at building student connect or introducing activations in the rural and urban markets going forward?
Yes, we plan to expand the horizon after taking feedbacks and learnings from this campaign.

So will we see more of outdoor or print ads or youth engagement at colleges?
For this campaign, we are utilising more of outdoor TV, social media and the digital space. This will be followed by more of ground activities, where we will be focusing on colleges.

What about digital and social media?
Today, the youth basically has three most important touch points: the first is career; second is relationships; and the third is attitude and identity. So, our campaign also revolves around these facets of a youth’s life. We plan to extent this thought to our social media campaign as well. Today, the youth is very vocal, aware and clear about what they want from life and relationships. You cannot fool the youth and they are not falling for perceptions. They know what they want and they know how to get it. 

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