Dec 9, 2008

Mktg - India;Sun Direct takes a leaf from Bajaj XCD

Sapna Nair

Direct is in expansion mode. Having covered South India and Delhi and the National Capital Region, the DTH operator is moving to fresh turf. Its pan-India rollout has begun and the company hopes to increase its subscriber base to three million by the end of the fiscal year, from the current two million.

The Kalanidhi Maran and Astro Malaysia backed DTH service launched first in Tamil Nadu at the end of December 2007. In another three months, the brand was launched in the other three South Indian states. Claiming to be the first DTH service provider to launch with MPEG4, the company reportedly signed on two million subscribers within 10 months of its launch.

In fact, according to Tony D’Silva, chief operating officer of Sun Direct, the reason for the delay in expanding to other areas was that the company wasn’t able to keep up with the surge in demand. “Supply was less than demand. But now, our position is comfortable,” he says.

The market has witnessed the entry of two DTH players – Airtel and Big – in the last six months. D’Silva says that Sun Direct’s proposition is backed by deep understanding of consumer behaviour. “Our price and understanding of consumers’ needs are the key differentiating factors of our offering,” he explains.

Sun Direct will offer two types of packages – My Pack and Sunshine Pack. My Pack will be for regional markets such as Maharashtra and West Bengal, where there is a strong demand for regional content. “We have analysed the viewership in each of the states and created appropriate custom-designed packages for every state and region,” D’Silva adds.

In the South, Sun Direct commands 65 per cent of the DTH market. It aims to grab 35-40 per cent of the Mumbai market within a year. It will promote its offering through a television commercial, print ads in all the leading dailies and merchandising.

“Through our communication, we want to convey to the consumer that with Sun Direct, you only pay for what you watch,” D’Silva says. The premise is that DTH is not a rich man’s product, it is for everybody.

Meanwhile, the TVC that has been created for Sun Direct by McCann Erickson is expected to raise eyebrows because of its ‘direct’ resemblance to the Bajaj XCD DTS-Si TVC created by O&M. (See TVC here)

The Bajaj TVC featured two men on motorbikes at a traffic signal, discussing the attributes of their respective bikes. This one has the same characters with the same mannerisms in a similar situation.

The Sun Direct TVC has one of the men fixing a dish on the terrace of his building, when another man comes and asks him if he has got a new dish.

The two start discussing DTH features, such as the number of channels, kind of channels, and so on. In the end, it emerges that the one fixing the dish has got a much better deal because he has paid less than half the price for more features.

A spokesperson from McCann Erickson Chennai, who did not wish to be named, doesn’t deny the resemblance. It is a deliberate strategy by the agency to get the audience’s attention with characters that have already become well known.

“The Bajaj ad is extremely easy to relate to and has been loved by the Indian audiences. The market presented us with an opportunity with the Bajaj ad and we built up on it,” the spokesperson says.

The agency’s rationale is that if art can feed on art and cinema can feed on cinema, why can’t advertising feed on advertising? Since the two belong to different categories, the agency sees no harm in extending the creative idea.

D’Silva believes that it’s a kind of spoof which conveys the message aptly in a humorous manner. The TVC will hit television screens by the end of the week.

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