How marketing strategies are facilitating the creation of bigger brands out of Indian animated IPs

The kids genre in India is growing exponentially. Six months down, the sector is already growing in fast pace this year to outdo itself from last year. According to this year’s FICCI EY report, animation segment is estimated to reach Rs 24.4 billion by 2021. The emerging trends reflect that local content in regional languages is paying huge dividends. Thus, to build and maintain a long-term relationship with the most dynamic and versatile audience- kids through their local toon characters, big names in the business (Sony YAY!, Discovery Kids, Cartoon Network, Pogo, Nickelodeon, Green Gold Animation, Cosmos-Maya, Toonz Animation, DQ Entertainment and others) have adopted various marketing strategies which are very crucial to gain traction to their IPs and establish them as a bigger brand. For instance, the launch of Golmaal Jr. on Sonic (part of Nickelodeon) was supported by a dynamic 360 degree marketing and communication plan that included an aggressive TV plan, within the Viacom18 network and outside the network. A high decibel outdoor plan along with mall visibility is sure to capture eyeballs across the country. In a recent round table press conference, Viacom18 Kids Network and Hindi Mass Entertainment head Nina Jaipuria mentioned, “We’re a 360 degree entertainer across all platforms. We have almost 11,000 reach in retail and ‘Back to School’ products. For Golmaal Jr. we’re checking highly visible outdoor plans. From visibility in malls, to retail outlets, to transit media branding, to partnering with fun-zones, fun photo opportunities with the iconic Golmaal bike and audio standees at multiplexes playing the catchy Golmaal title track, pranks on Fever FM and Golmaal promos in theaters, we have a lot that’s sure to break the clutter.” There are various innovations lined up on the digital front also, starting with the innovative YouTube unskippable ad that is a category first.There would be a large influencer campaign reaching out to the digital audience. Keeping in mind the sensibility of the social media natives, they have also launched a challenge – #GolmaalJrChallenge where kids would be asked to replicate the popular Golmaal dance step! Similarly Sony YAY! have exciting plans for kids too. Last month, the kids channel had announced a massive 124 city van activation to amplify its on-ground engagement with kids. The van activation promises a fun-filled time for young ones with exciting show themed games and a host of other activities. With specially designed vans set to give everyone the reel-to-real experience, Sony YAY! is going all out to transform its pit-stops into YAY-zones. The vans will halt and engage with young audiences at prominent locations in cities across Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Lately, their popular toon Honey in a Back to School campaign went to many household to promote child rights and right to education for kids. SPN Kids genre business head Leena Lele Dutta noted, “This year we are not coming out with any new IP but we are doing a lot of activities with our existing ones. We have our van activation across almost over 100 cities and towns through the length and breadth of the country. So, that’s a big big initiative. In one city they will visit two to three locations, collate kids, have contest, get inclusion from parents. So, we’re trying to make sure our characters’ presence is widespread than launching another IP and focusing on that. This entire year it’s about making our IPs popular through our PTL activities and this we plan to take the entire summer season on ground. We have mall activations, bookshops, fun fares and all of that where kids are associated. You’ll find our association with Imagica and more. And we’ll make sure that our existing characters popularising Honey Bunny and KickO will reflect what our on ground strategy also.” Sony YAY! also lately brought on board popular rap-singer and musician Badshah for the title track of KickO and Super SpeedO and also celebrated World Music Day to spread unlimited smiles to children from different walks of life so that they strengthen their musical connect. In a unique initiative kick-started by the channel,  KickO brought together legends from the music fraternity such as A.R Rahman, Badshah, Sonu Nigam, Shaan and many more. The music maestros extended their support to the movement by gifting autographed musical instruments from their prized collections to children from an NGO, helping them come closer to the opportunity of exploring their passion in music. Turner is also no exception in this league. Turner’s fan-first strategy focuses on a 360 degree approach to engage fans beyond the TV to digital, social media, apps, games and events. Their successful ‘School Contact Programme directly connects with over one million kids pan-India. First launched 14 years ago, this trendsetting property gave young viewers an opportunity to directly engage with their favourite cartoons from various IPs such as Ben 10, Roll No.21 and Chhota Bheem. The school contact programme has cultivated a solid reputation as perfect fan engagement avenue, strengthening the bond between kids and their brands Cartoon Network and Pogo making  their respective popular franchises which have become household names today. Another recent example was the launch of an all-new show on POGO, Kalari Kids, where they set up an immersive 360-degree AR video photo booth in multiple malls. Here, fans could digitally immerse themselves into the character-verse and truly feel like they were a part of the show. They also conducted a programme ‘Chhota Bheem ki Eco-Pathshala’ at shopping malls across the city to engage and entertain kids. Turner also focuses on merchandise marketing, leveraging the legacy of its top franchises and iconic characters such as The Powerpuff Girls, Tuzki and We Bare Bears. The brand is known for like-minded partnerships with Indian designers such as Nandita Mahtani and Manish Arora, and with merchandising partners such as The Souled Store, POPxo Shop and Myntra. Each partnership further fortifies fan engagement, brand awareness and boosts the franchise. Commented Turner India managing director Siddharth Jain, “Our marketing efforts are designed to build both the Cartoon Network and Pogo brands as well as their respective franchises and IPs on a ‘fan-first strategy’. It’s a strategy that focuses on the dynamic on- and off-screen demands of fans. With an audience that has evolved with us since the time we pioneered the kids’ entertainment space and who today thrives on immersion, new experiences and engagement, we have moved towards greater experiential brand-building enabling our fans to embrace our brands, franchises and characters in very part of their everyday life beyond the TV screen.” Besides broadcasters, studios too consider marketing strategies to be lucrative in making their IPs a bigger brand that helps them get more acknowledged and associated with it. Green Gold Animation is probably the best in this case. Chhota Bheem as an IP is identified all over the globe.
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Green Gold Animation founder and CEO Rajiv Chilaka said, “To establish our brands, the biggest marketing strategy we took up with our original productions was to work on the best content to bring the bands closest to its audience. Exciting stories ensured that the viewership of the shows increased. This again was followed up with attractive merchandising and exhaustive events activation, that kept the brands close to its fans and help establish them.” For Cosmos-Maya, the focus has always been on carefully calculated digital and print campaign. To quote a recent example, for Inspector Chingum’s launch campaign on Disney’s Hungama TV, the story had coverage in more than 150 print publications all over the country covering all major regions and languages. This was combined with a concerted marketing effort on WowKidz, the studio’s YouTube platform with more than 21 million subscribers. Cosmos-Maya CEO Anish Mehta added, “Our endeavour has always been on building brands and not just business. With more and more of our IPs being commissioned, we run planned integrated marketing campaigns for our viewers. We also help the broadcaster push the show with trade and clients. We also leverage our social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. For Inspector Chingum, there was an Instagram handle created especially for the IP which was subscribed to by close to 70,000 people in less than a week’s time. All this was in addition to Disney’s promotional activities which included promos of the show running even during the IPL.” Based on their expertise in developing IPs into powerful global brands, DQ Entertainment has grown a unique know-how in creating franchises with strong international 360 degree display. DQ Entertainment’s flagship property –The Jungle Book has been sold in over 160 countries with over 500 categories of merchandising products being sold globally. DQE has been building its strategy by growing a diversified portfolio of both recognisable brands and original content. Their international brands like The Jungle Book, Peter Pan, Robin Hood, Psammy show and others have worldwide presence as apart of merchandising marketing. That  includes – television, home entertainment, music publishing , games ,toys, books, apparels, bags, stationary, inflatables, walkie-talkies, lollipops, playing cards, beach toys, Stickers, Puzzles and lot more. DQ Entertainment group COO Manoj Mishra informed,  “The marketing strategy followed by us is largely dependent on the kind of show and target group it caters to. Apart from having the presence of the brand felt in major international markets such as MIPCOM,MIPTV,KIDSCREEN and more to attract global broadcast and VOD players we have also effectively used the print media from time to time to do branding exercises so as to reach a wider audience. We have also extensively used social media platforms for marketing our brands and merchandising products to increase their brand equity and all such activities have given immense dividends to us in terms of sales and taking the IPs forward.” Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year through its animation wing, Toonz Animation brings famous comic character Chacha Chaudhary to life into the animation world with a comprehensive 360-degree strategy stradling all the media vehicles. Toonz Animation has tied up with Disney to air the multi-episode animated television series from June and the series is expected to receive a fantastic reception. Spokesperson from Toonz Animation quoted, “ We’ve initiated the marketing strategy of promoting Chacha Chaudhary from March with the launch of the social media channels and platforms. Chacha Chaudhary official facebook page which was an instant hit among the pre millennials with many of them dropping in messages, ideas and good wishes for the upcoming series. The Instagram as well as Twitter handles also have been equally buzzing with enthusiasm. These vehicles have now become the drivers of traffic onto the Chacha Chaudhary Youtube channel launched by Toonz in April. The channel has seen a steady increase in traffic which will provide a good audience base when the Chacha web series when it launches.” With such calculated and researched integrated strategies in place, we can definitely hope to witness a splurge in this sector that brilliantly aids and supports the animation industry in India. Fingers crossed for that!