Radhika Joshi
Feb 04, 2014

'We need to keep it alive through the year...’

Q&A with Nitin Chaudhury, business head – West, Hindustan Times, on the brand’s association with the Kala Ghoda Festival

'We need to keep it alive through the year...’

The annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is back with its 16th edition. This year, Hindustan Times is presenting the Festival. Campaign India caught up with Nitin Chaudhury, business head – West, to know more about the partnership and plans for the Festival.

What was the rationale and what are the objective(s) in becoming the ‘Presenting Sponsor’ of the Kala Ghoda Festival 2014?

We would not like to call it ‘Presenting Sponsor’. We would like to say we are hosting the event or we are partners to the event. The rationale was very simple; as you would have seen, since the time we have come to Mumbai and launched the paper, we have been doing a multitude of things to connect with the people of Mumbai, to give back to the people of Mumbai and the city in various ways. Whether in terms of improving the basic lives of a Mumbaikar where we raise issues in the civic domain, whether it’s safety or traffic or potholes etc… Or in terms of social and cultural value, where we try and create events and occasions for people to celebrate with Hindustan Times.

‘No TV Day’ was the first endeavour in this regard and for the past four years we have been doing that. We said we will take it to the next level and do something even bigger which goes beyond one day, which goes beyond just having fun to extending it to arts and culture. And Kala Ghoda presented an opportunity to do just that. It is the Festival which is the city’s very own. A Festival, which is much loved and much anticipated, and very well know across the country if not the globe. Therefore we feel privileged to be partnering with the Kala Ghoda Art Festival.

What is the duration of the association? (How many years).

The duration contractually is three years. But our intention is to be with it forever.

Do you agree that such associations can create an impression only over a period of time?

Yes, the first year would just be identifying the Festival with Hindustan Times and the ownership in the minds of stakeholders, whether its readers or the city authorities, etc.

What is the approach to RoI? How will you measure it?

In such things where you want to be identified with the city, the RoI would not be in terms of money definitely. The RoI would be in terms of associating yourself with Mumbai-ites; Mumbai-ites feeling that Hindsutan Times is the paper of the city. So the RoI would be in terms of salience of the brand; RoI would be in terms of top of mind; RoI would be in terms of preference of readers for Hindustan Times over the other newspaper of the city.

What are the sponsorship opportunities available to brands? What would they cost and what would they deliver? What has the response been so far?

There are various opportunities available, beginning with the standard one which is presenting sponsor, powered by, associated with etc. But more importantly what we have tried to do is to integrate the brands with the programme in whatever way we could, to give brands a better bang for buck and also add to the programming at the same time without overtly making it very commercial. Therefore there is a food partner; there would be a theatre vertical partner and so on. So we have actually given the parts of this mega event to various brands where they see the fit in terms of their brand proposition, their target audience, to programmes which are happening. It’s not a standard rate card; it is customised for each brand depending on the deliverables. We are not selling this purely like a logo presence or media... It’s more like experience. For example, there is a food brand which is on board which is part of the food vertical and some chef from their side will come and do demonstrations during the food workshops. So it completely depends on the deliverables that are there and the effort which goes in. With every advertiser we have gone out looking for sponsorships to over the past two to three months, we have figured that we have to make our offering for each brand.

There are about eight or 10 brands who have already got associated with this. There is Dosti group, a reputed builder of Mumbai. It’s their second year of partnership with the Festival. There is Renault who has come as the ‘Powered by’ partner. There is Pizza Hut Express; then there is Nutrella, HDFC Home loans.

How important is art for Hindustan Times? Are there other art properties HT is associated with?

We associate regularly with the Delhi International Festival also. We believe art is very important it explores a side of human life, which slowly, in our current fast-paced life, is getting left behind. Art can play a very important role. So as a newspaper, we thought keeping that side alive is very important. As a medium, people put creditability, trust and they invest time in reading a newspaper.

Besides the on-ground connect at the Festival, and editorial content, how do you intend to leverage the Festival?

We are leveraging it in a very big way on social media. We have a Facebook page, we have a Twitter handle, we have various contests going on. Online, we have developed a microsite. It’s an interactive website where people can actually chalk out the nine days of Festival and choose which event to go to. It gives a map of where each event is happening.

Typically, a sponsor’s association is seen for the duration of the Festival, and a few days prior. Is there some lever to keep up the engagement through the year?

We have spoken to the people from Kala Ghoda on how can we keep it alive throughout the year. We haven’t yet formulated a plan but we intend to. Kala Ghoda, by definition, has to be in the geography which is Kala Ghoda. So taking it outside Kala Ghoda may not be possible. The other problem is that doing a Festival of this magnitude, doing it in the streets of Mumbai, requires a huge amount of co-ordination, permissions etc. from the authorities and a huge amount of work from all of them, whether it’s the police or BMC or any other authority. So doing that throughout the year may not be a possibility. But we definitely are exploring. We need to keep it alive through the year if we have to indeed provide momentum to the whole art and culture adoption in the city.

Tell us about the promotional campaign, and agencies involved.

Our creative agency is RK Swamy BBDO and outdoor agency is DDB MudraMax. The entire piece is about making it bigger and better. Kala Ghoda by definition is a black horse, so most of the art is around horse but the horse has a new look. We have tried to create the look of a horse for each of the verticals. There is a dance-related horse, there is a music-related horse, there is an art-related horse and so on.


Specifically, what is the engagement through digital and social channels?

There are contests around it. There is a photography contest. The other contest which is going on right now is ‘The Architecture of Mumbai’. Readers are urged to take pictures of the architecture of Mumbai and send them to us and a panel of our photographers and editors then choose the best picture. Another contest which is going on is ‘My Memory of Kala Ghoda’ or ‘Picture of the day’ where people visiting the Festival take picture from the festival and send them to us. There is a Twitter contest called ‘Tweet of the Day’ where you visit the Festival and tweet about it saying what do you feel. The best tweets will be featured in the newspaper. And there is a virtual map available on the website, there is a calendar organiser available. You can just tap, pick and choose the events you want to attend and it will export them into your Outlook calendar to remind you of those events. And on Facbook and Twitter, we are continuously telling people our recommendation on what people should visit.

Campaign India

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