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Sony Max is competing with the GECs in terms of reach: Vaishali Sharma

Sony MAX, the premiere Hindi movie channel from Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN), has lined up a three-month long integrated campaign – ‘Yeh Desh ki Deewangi’ – to mark the completion of two decades in the country. The channel will be launching a slew of TVCs as part of this campaign, featuring a central character called Gullu Gulati. 

The ‘Yeh Hai Desh Ki Deewangi’ campaign celebrates the spirit of millions of cinema fans whose passion and enthusiasm for movies make them special and larger than life. The first of the TVCs, which went on air on July 20, 2019, relives classic golden moments from some of the most memorable movies of the past two decades. 

Sony MAX has been leading the Hindi Movies genre and topped the genre in R+U as well as Urban markets [BARC India, Wk 29, HSM (U+R) : NCCS All : 2+ Individuals] with gross viewerships of 501,589 and 307,410, respectively. 

In conversation with Adgully, Vaishali Sharma, Head - Marketing & Communications, Sony SAB, PAL and Sony MAX Movie Cluster, speaks at length about the latest campaign strategy, on Sony Max completing 20 years and much more. Excerpts: 

What is the thought process behind the ‘Yeh Hai Desh Ki Deewangi’ campaign?
It is very simple. Unlike the complex reasons why brands make campaigns – be it for problem solving or trying to introduce something – for us, it is about celebrating our relationship with our viewers, a relationship that has been continuing for 20 long years. Sony Max has always led the way and has been a pioneer in the Hindi movies genre. With the channel turning 20 on October 12, the timing is right to ring in the celebrations with our viewers. 

How did you build on the ‘Max Deewana Bana De’ proposition?
You wouldn’t find a better way to portray people’s passion for movies and that is why it resonates with everyone. The brief to our agency DDB Mudra was very simple – celebrate this passion for movies and the many ways of looking at ‘Deewangi’. There is ‘Deewangi’ in the most unexpected of people, but the question was how do we personify it and how do we encapsulate our journey. 

It is a very interesting way of doing the commercial. For this, we did two things – first, personify ‘Deewangi’, and second, encapsulate our entire 20-year journey in 25-35 minutes. We wanted to project that the channel brand is no different from the passionate Hindi cinema lover. Thus, it became very easy to tell the story through the protagonist, Gullu Gulati, who has been passionate about films right from his childhood and will become synonymous with the brand from now on. 

A lot of your competitors have rebranded their movie channels. Why have you decided to continue with ‘Deewangi’?
We didn’t feel the need to change as we have been very successful with it. Also, one needs to have a compelling reason to change. Our campaign is timeless and still resonates with the audiences even 20 years later. 

Could you briefly take us through Sony Max’s journey from 1999 to 2019?
It has been an interesting journey. There have been many firsts – and we will continue with it – we were the first movie channel to air events and cricket matches. It started with the Champions League, followed by the ICC Cricket World Cup and then moving on to the Indian Premier League (IPL). We also pioneered formats like ‘Extra Innings’ and ‘Extra Shots’, telling the story behind the extra shots, and making trivia more interesting. With ‘Extra Innings’, we strived to present sports in an entertaining and glamorous way, something that had not been done before. 

We also introduced short format content segments like ‘Bittu Bak Bak’ and recently, ‘Dr Pran Le Le’. The objective behind these is to enhance the brand value and viewing experience so that it strengthens the connect with people and gets them hooked on to the channel more and more. 

Sony Max’s passion for Bollywood has helped the channel craft its success story, so much so that now we are competing even with the GECs in terms of reach. 

What is the distinctive brand perspective of Sony Max today?
Viewers will always say that it is a premium quality channel where you will see movie premieres. They find the best movies that they can really enjoy and which set the right mood. From a brand perspective, we are known for our passion for movies and ‘Deewana Bana De’ is what makes us stand out. 

How has your TG evolved over these 20 years?
Passion for movies is universal, so it’s very difficult to say who we target specifically. Males, females, youth, kids – everyone loves watching films, and hence, our content is diverse. But if you were to ask which is our strongest TG base, it would be the 15-30 age group. 

How has the impact of TRAI’s new tariff regime been?
The strategy is to continue to win, continue to be a leader and continue to never let anyone erode the relationship we have with our viewers, which is very important for us.

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