Viacom18’s Ferzad Palia speaks about the channel’s fresh positioning, a spruced-up content line-up, aggressive promotion strategy and more
Aanchal Kohli | Mumbai | September 10, 2015
After three and a half years of being a one-stop destination to experience sub-genres of comedy on television, Comedy Central has unveiled its new brand ethos and will now transform with a new positioning – ‘Your Happy Place’. The new messaging resonates with the feel and spirit of this three-year old channel that has pioneered the art of bringing happiness to its viewers through new kinds of comedy content.
With a fresh take on its positioning, Comedy Central aims at expanding its viewers’ happiness quotient. The channel will incorporate a new look and feel while offering an action-packed month for its viewers from September 10. The new avatar has been designed internally.
Ferzad Palia, Executive, Vice-President and Business Head, English Entertainment, Viacom18, speaks to BestMediaInfo.com about Comedy Central’s new positioning and the road ahead.
After nearly three and a half years of helping viewers look at the lighter side of life with ‘Laugh it off’, Comedy Central now aims at taking a broader positioning. With ‘Your Happy Place’, the channel moves beyond laughing out loud at the feel-good and humorous content. The new brand positioning resonates with today’s common lingo on what makes people happy.
Palia said, “Since its launch, Comedy Central has been expressive and tongue-in-cheek while being irreverent and conversational. Now is the time to refresh our positioning to accurately reflect our programming and ideology, which is to be television’s premier destination where people find their #HappyPlace.”
According to Palia, the insight came from the consumers and with this new change, Comedy Central aimed to bring a fresh take on its brand elements and content. The new look showcases this positioning by using a rich and vibrant colour palette, slick animation and an overall design package that is easy on the eyes. Using the circle to signify locations and happy ‘zones’, these elements also help to highlight each show. The use of innovative ‘stickers’ helps qualify these shows as well.
The channel has rolled out a 360-degree marketing plan with extensive campaign on its digital and on-ground platforms. The campaign is being promoted on other network channels of Viacom18, including Vh1, Colors Infinity and MTV.
Elaborating on the same, Palia said, “We are going across the mediums for promoting the channel’s new look and feel. The aim is to involve consumers at every step as that is the kind of proposition the channel resonates with. There will be a lot of below-the-line activities planned too.”
As part of its consumer engagement, Comedy Central will run a month-long on-air contest – ‘Comedy Central What’s Your Happy Place’. Viewers will get a chance to win prizes every day by sending their answers via SMS. The winners will be announced on Comedy Central’s Facebook page.
The channel will further engage with its viewers through a unique, fun-filled ‘Happy Quest’ treasure hunt in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Through this pursuit of happiness, 12 winners will get a lifetime opportunity to win an all-expense paid trip to Thailand.
Comedy Central has also extended the concept of ‘Your Happy Place’ through on-ground partnerships with various bars, salons and coffee shops. Venues such as Café Coffee Day, Gold’s Gym, Maroosh, etc., will be converted into ‘Happy Places’. With its eclectic marketing campaign, the channel aims to connect with viewers at the most unexpected places.
Programming and content strategy
Palia said, “The channel aims at spreading happiness with a handpicked assortment of its newest shows. The new thought will kick start with three new shows, which will help take the philosophy of the brand ahead. We will keep introducing new shows as and when required in the coming future.”
Understanding the pulse of its viewers, Comedy Central in its repositioned avatar is aiming to increase engagement with viewers through a new line-up of diverse shows in September, which includes ‘Younger’, ‘Betty White’s Off Their Rockers’, ‘Your Family or Mine’ and ‘The Mindy Project Season 3’.
The Happy Place proposition will be carried forward through the year with two award winning projects – LOL Club, a consumer engagement programme that offers viewers discounts and freebies on happy experiences, and Spread the Cheer 2, a service initiative which helps give back to the society by bringing cheer to those in need.
According to Palia, the channel has received a phenomenal response in the past three years. “Everything that we had thought of, we achieved that in the first 15 months of our launch. We re-popularised comedy in the English cluster and from there on the channel has been growing year on year. The audience got to see a different side of comedy, which is beyond sitcoms. We are always open for experiments as and when required.”
Speaking further, he said, “The response has been great from across the markets. We have four times the followers than any other English general entertainment channel on Twitter. We have been extremely popular across the country because of the kind of programming line-up that we have.”
On the coping with the growing competition, Palia said, “The entire game is about differentiation. What makes a difference is the kind of shows and strategies that a channel has. Our positioning of being a 24-hour English entertainment channel sets us apart from all other channels in the space.”
The major game is about ad revenues and subscription in this space, thus the question that arises is whether the English entertainment genre is making enough revenues to match up to the kind of investments made in this space? To this, Palia said, “It is an evolving story. It is not about being the biggest genre in the television space, but about the Rs 200 crore ad revenues in the English entertainment space, excluding movies, news, etc. This is rapidly growing year on year. Today, viewers are demanding English content. I feel this is the best phase for the English entertainment space.”