Your client is a new pay-TV licensee called Helkom Media. It is planning to launch in June with at least six channels, including a 24-hour local news channel, movies, entertainment and sport. It is aimed at the growing middle class that doesn’t currently subscribe to M-Net, and will be priced from R100 per month upwards. Your budget for its marketing campaign is R20-million.
!_LT_STRONGFor the people, by the people!_LT_/STRONG
One of the biggest challenges faced by a media strategist is the many ways to skin a cat. Give the same brief to two different planners and you will get two different responses Ã¢Â€Â“ each correct and valid in their own way. I have had a look at the Helkom brief, a fictitious company in a fictitious country that might have links with that country’s national telecommunications network, and decided to approach it slightly differently, by giving advice on more than just media. As most media planners know, our job spec is stretching way beyond the realm of media planning and buying, to that of communication advisors, strategists and general “good idea givers”.
Helkom Media is entering a hugely competitive market. Its competitors are not only spending tons of money on other media, but they all have the privilege of having their own platforms from which to promote themselves to the masses.
If you believe Adex, the SABC spent R2.5-billion on self-promotion in 2007. In comparison, e.tv spent chump change (R750-million) and the MultiChoice group spent an astronomical R4-billion! The reality is that we are entering an R8-billion industry, with a budget of R20-million. Hard work indeed. Look at it this way, for every R1 that we spend, our competition will fork out R400!
How are we going to make our brand stand out above our behemoth friends? We have to do something that only a small and agile brand can do Ã¢Â€Â“ involve the user smartly. Make the station their station and give them the final say in the decision-making process.
User-generated content is the biggest thing to hit the ad industry since, well, I guess the internet. All over the world, brands allow the user to define how, where and when they interact with you. Most car manufacturers allow you to spec your vehicle exactly the way you want it. If you want a pink Isuzu Bakkie with green leather interior and twin chrome exhaust pipes Ã¢Â€Â“ you’ve got it.
Consumers are becoming smarter by the day and they are not easily fooled by cheap and empty advertising slogans. On our limited budget, we need to make sure that we do something completely different and very brave.
My proposition would therefore be to launch the first channel FOR YOU. The channel will be shaped and formed from the ground up Ã¢Â€Â“ by you, the consumer. I would launch the channel utilising press, radio and outdoor media, with the massive announcement that, finally, there is a channel just FOR YOU. You decide what happens when, where and how. I would run a radio promotion on all of the major regional and national radio stations, promoting the fact that you can decide the new format of the television channel we are building. By buying competitions, we will hopefully get more chatter from the DJs and greater discussion around the topics. I would request consumers to vote on issues such as:
Ã¢Â€Â¢ What time the evening news bulletin should flight.
Ã¢Â€Â¢ Who should present the news?
Ã¢Â€Â¢ Which comedies would you like to see on a Tuesday night?
Ã¢Â€Â¢ Give us an idea for a reality show that you would like to see.
I would then run the results every week in the major Sunday press. The programme line-up and content will take shape before your very eyes.
Even though the product is aimed at the middle market, I would have new technology play an integral part in the communication. I would have the progress on a live web and mobi site. All voting would be done by SMS, which of course builds an amazing database of consumers that you can market to once the dust has settled. To further involve the user, I would run a competition with all of the major advertising and film schools across the country to produce what they think is the best promo for the station. All of the promos will be fighted on the channel and viewers can choose their favourite.
The success of reality TV and phenomena like Facebook has proven that everyone wants to be a star. I would hold auditions around the country for continuity presenters, newsreaders and actuality programme presenters. This will not only entrench the FOR YOU proposition, but encourage potential users to take up the offer to see themselves and their mates on TV. Now let’s not forget that we also have to launch the channel to the advertising and media industry in order to pay the bills. To keep with the theme of a channel FOR YOU, I would make all advertising auction-based. If you want to place an ad in the news tonight, tell me how much you want to pay. If it is last-minute and I have space available, I would rather take R3,000 for the spot than not take anything at all. You decide how much you want to pay. In this way you maximise your sell-out potential. Your more popular programmes will only carry advertising from people willing to pay premium for it.
Lastly, Helkom should not forget that they have a platform of their own to work from. Helkom is part of the national telecommunications giant with the same name. I would make sure that I use as many of the platforms of my sister company as possible. For example, on every Helkom telephone statement there should be an advert/promotion to sell the new TV channel. If you call any Helkom service, such as 1023, or any other call centre, there should be a “call holding” message promoting the new channel. Lastly, I would incentivise users of the Helkom telephone network to take up the TV offer to cross-sell the two products together.
To conclude, you are entering into one of the most competitive industries around. You need something that can differentiate you from the buying power, footprint, history and international connections of your competitors. I think this is it!
Chris Botha is a media strategist at The MediaShop.
Ã¢Â–Â This article first appeared in !_LT_EMThe Media!_LT_/EM magazine!_LT_EM.!_LT_/EM