We aim to create content and engagement that goes beyond the realm of a broadcast channel: Sujoy Roy Bardhan

The head of marketing, OAP and licensing at Sony Yay, shares insights on the channel’s on-ground initiatives, how it communicates with brand’s through OOH, and more...

Jul 25, 2022 07:43:00 PM | Article | Noel D'souza Share - Share to Facebook

As the pandemic is slowly fading and on-ground events are making a comeback, Sony Pictures Networks kid’s GEC channel, Sony Yay, aims to curate and execute off-screen experiences for on-screen impact. 


To elevate experiences beyond TV, the channel is focusing on and has invested in on-ground activations such as brunches at properties like Grand Hyatt and pet rescue missions with its characters at KidZania outlets.


The channel’s vision is to be a part of kids’ everyday lives through integrated and experiential endeavours. For this ambition, this summer 2022, Sony Yay launched its three-pronged approach: Entertain-Experience-Explore.  


For this marketing approach, the channel aspires to drive localised experiences through its animated characters, engage with its audiences through mobile gaming, roll out exclusive content on digital channels and execute an array of on-ground experiences. 


We caught up with Sujoy Roy Bardhan, head - marketing, OAP and licensing, Sony Yay, to understand how the channel has evolved since its inception, the strategies behind these experiential ventures, and how it uses OOH to garner more advertisers. 


How has the channel Sony Yay and the kids GEC category evolved in your five-year tenure? 


The inception of the channel took place in 2016 when the current business head of Sony Yay, Leena Lele Dutta, was given the mandate to start a kid's channel for the network. 


When we launched the channel in 2017, we realised that it's a fairly high TRP category. However, there was a lot of clutter with the channels present at that stage. 


Most of the brands that came to India came with rich libraries, borrowed content from international markets and then dubbed them in Hindi and other Indian languages. 


But for Sony Yay we realised that if we want to draw eyeballs we will need to customise stories that are enduring to the Indian audience. That is how we started with four shows that were our IPs. These stories were created by us, the characters were conceptualised by us and we had the production house produce the type of content we wanted. 


From its inception to date, we have launched over 15 shows and expanded our business from being a linear channel to having our business on digital to creating IPs specific for on-ground experiences. 


Now we aim to create content and engagement for kids that goes beyond the realm of a broadcast channel. 


Speaking of going beyond the realm of broadcast, how do you see the channel’s on-ground activation's generate impact?


A lot of our on-ground pieces are related to satiating the fandom of kids. We are in the business of creating characters. This is a category, where kids do not end their relationship with a character through only the content. They would like to live with those experiences as if it is an integral part of their life. So they would want a school book with a cover image of Oggy and the Cockroaches on it or a water bottle with Honey Bunny.


Conversation currencies are built when you find people with the same interest. Through on-ground activations, it gives these children who have liked our content a level playing ground, where they get to exchange a note with someone else about a character they like. These experiences build a community. 


We don’t look at activations as a standalone strategy. We look at it as something that we are creating and would eventually have a long-term impact. 


To connect with our audiences, we do a lot of on-ground pieces with Smaaash, Time Zone, and One City, because of their impactful reach. We have also tied up with KidZania, where we rolled out a Sony Yay pet rescue agency in the first week of June. 


What are the upcoming BTL events Sony Yay has chalked out for the upcoming festive season?


For this festive season, during Diwali, we intend to launch an on-ground activation and are currently in the planning stages. The mix will entail mall activations in major cities, and van activations to go beyond and connect with smaller towns. Pre-Diwali we will also cash in by engaging with students in schools.


As the pandemic is fading out, how do you see BTL activations picking up in the coming month and how do you see these activations impact the channel’s growth?


Most mediums reach a peak when they are built over ideas. I like to believe that BTL will see a comeback. But only if they are adaptable or relevant ideas are curated keeping the current scenario in mind. BTL will have to have an integrated approach where it plays a key role in curating a functional piece for a creative idea. 


On-ground activations will continue to remain a huge focus. It adds that immersive experience for kids to understand what the characters are. These characters are celebrities for kids. So when they are seeing them on-ground and looking at the entire experience of how other kids are also moved by the character present at an event. An aura is created which can not be created through a digital platform or TV. 


How will brands leverage these BTL activations? 


Most brands solve for a functional value. However, my characters on Sony Yay are building a relationship with kid's through BTL activations. With the characters, we play the role of bridging the gap between the product and the children through a friend's recommendation, the friend in this case is our animated character. This helps brands build a lot of relevance. 


Brands come on board to overlay the connect and relationship the characters have with kids onto their products. 


What are the different marketing strategies employed for the channel?


While we are a brand, we are also a media vehicle ourselves. Our biggest marketing push happens on the channel. It is about creating interest amongst our viewers about the new pieces we are bringing on board.


Digital has become a platform of interest for us and has a lot of potential for engagement. We have nine YouTube channels with specialised content for AVOD. With these YouTube channels, kids get to experience their favourite characters in short format content. This content is exclusively available on YouTube. Apart from it being a business strategy, it is expanding the animated character's universe.


Another focus area is mobile gaming. We have created around 15 games that can be downloaded on Android phones. These games are aligned with their content storyline, as seen on the channel. 


Since on-ground is a focus area, does the channel invest in OOH? 


We use the OOH medium to share knowledge about our channel with media planners and advertisers. 


The unique factor about this category is that the consumer may not be an advertiser. They won’t have any link about what is playing on the channel unless they see the ratings of the programmes. Hence, a separate marketing exercise, through OOH, needs to be carried out to explain the leverage points of our channel and get advertisers onboard. 


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