Chennai, Aug. 18 Slowly but steadily, a clutch of big brands is tying up with various Jatra (mobile theatre) troupes in the North-East to reach out to rural markets there. The region is a difficult terrain to negotiate, not just physically but even figuratively – there aren’t many media options and media reach is very poor.
Mr Soumik Chakraborthy, Marketing Manager of the Chennai-based CavinKare Pvt Ltd, which has tied up with the Bardoichila troupe this year to build the brand for Fairever in Assam, says: “Now actors from cinema and TV also act in Jatra shows – they even take a break from their screen assignments to do this. For some of them, it’s an opportunity to go back to their roots. And it’s a great opportunity to reach out.”
“It’s an active platform to talk to the rural people and makes for great local connect,” says Mr Sudipto Chowdhury, Chief Operating Officer, Bharti Airtel (North-Eastern States & Assam). Not only is it an awareness and education opportunity for companies but it’s also helping a folk form that has been cash-strapped and is looking for a revival plan, he says. This is the second year Airtel is tying up with Jatra troupes; for CavinKare, it’s the first.
Originally featuring stories from the epics, Jatra plays are now set in modern times and themes are social and current, from Hindu-Muslim unity to college romances. The plays are staged after the monsoon ends, in September-December, but marketing starts earlier, in May and June.
Mr Chakraborthy of CavinKare says the various phases, beginning from marketing of the show to the actual staging, offer a brand-building opportunity through sampling, co-branding of banners and seats, promotional material, and often, the script of the play. The marketer does not get to see the script till close to the date of staging. “Our only stipulation is that the message should not be a force-fit,” says Chakraborthy.
The shows are quite technology-heavy as they use a lot of sound and lighting equipment. Chowdhury of Airtel says that tying up with marketers has also afforded the troupes a chance to be more sophisticated. “For instance, if the show is about the Titanic sinking, we could use LCD projectors to depict that on the backdrop,” he explains.
CavinKare’s Chakraborthy says the marketer finances about 10-12 per cent of the show’s cost. The troupe owner gets the sponsorship money. However, if worldly-wise agents are roped in to liaison and negotiate with the brands, they get about 30 per cent of that, says Chowdhury. There’s a central agency coming up to coordinate these deals, he adds.
Earlier, it was the local brands that tied up with Jatra troupes to build a market. In the last 2-3 years, even the national brands are doing that. The initial results seem to be good, says Chakraborthy, the distributors and retailers are talking about it far more than earlier. Not only is there the benefit of “repeat exposure” due to the branding and sampling opportunities presented by the various phases of the Jatra’s planning, but as the brand message is presented through the entertainment medium, the mind is more open to receiving it, he says.
7 months ago