Dec 5, 2008

Entertainment - Star One to create a romantic Apprentice

Sapna Nair

STAR One and Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) have come to together to create content around the latter’s age-control cream brand, Pond’s Age Miracle. The show, called Pond’s Age Miracle Salaam-e-Ishq, will give married couples a chance to recreate the magic in their relationship.

This advertiser funded programme, Ravi Menon, executive vice-president and general manager, STAR One, says, will be an Indianised and romanticised version of the world famous reality show, The Apprentice.

“This will be the first time ever that a brand has created programming,” says HUL’s media services head, Dnyanada Chaudhari. The programme was conceptualised by the Pond’s team. HUL approached STAR One because the profile of the viewers of the channel matches that of the consumers for the product.

The experimental show, as Menon calls it, will have couples, married for four years or more, as contestants. They will have to perform various tasks in order to clear each level. The tasks could range from selling a product to organising a party. Nine couples, aged 35+ years, will be judged on various parameters. The winning couple will win a second honeymoon in Paris.

The show, which will commence from December 15, will be spread across 10 weeks and 19 episodes. Menon says that the team deliberately decided on non-celebrity contestants. “We took that call because we wanted the essence of the show to be true. Having celebrity couples diminishes the originality factor,” he explains.

The show is being touted as a nationwide search for the “miracle couple”. It will be promoted along the lines of “reviving romance among couples”, which is the positioning of Pond’s Age Miracle. The cream commands almost 50 per cent share of the anti-ageing segment in India.

“We wanted the brand to express itself beyond 30 seconds and channel the money in a way that engages the consumers and creates an everlasting impression,” Chaudhari states.

“Top-end consumers watch very little television. One has to think of different ways of selling to this target group and bringing saliency into the communication,” adds Govind Rajan, general manager, skin care division, HUL.

STAR is promoting the show across the network. Menon says, however, that heavy promotions are not being undertaken. “We are not going to use conventional media. We will rely on new media such as radio, web and mobile to promote the show, as its target audience can be reached effectively through these vehicles.”

Menon says that one can expect specific columns in newspapers and magazines to be dedicated to the show’s concept. Besides, a website will be created specifically for the show, jointly by STAR and HUL.

In the past, shows such as Jodi Kamaal Ki and several dance reality shows have tested the compatibility of couples. Most of them have had celebrities as contestants. But this route, Menon claims, has never been tried before. “Based on the response we get, we will do it on a bigger scale next season,” he says.

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