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The new rules of engagement

With a new television campaign, DishTV is looking to own the platform of entertainment

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What does a brand — which is a trailblazer in its category, which already has a dominant share of the market under its belt and the biggest Hindi movie star vaunting the product benefits with gusto — do when it wants to make a dash for an even bigger share of the market? Well, no easy answer to that one, but if you happen to be Dish TV, you might just want to become synonymous with that very element that defines the very reason for your existence.

That’s exactly what Dish TV, a division of Zee Network Enterprise, is trying to do with its new television commercial. With a hum-worthy jingle that goes “Sab par Dish sawaar hai…” (everyone’s possessed by Dish), the Essel Group Venture has jettisoned its two-year-old tagline “Ghar aayi zindagi” and is looking to usurp the entire platform of entertainment in the same way that tried to make itself synonymous with ‘thanda’, which in India is a generic term for soft drinks (remember Thanda matlab Coca-Cola?), way back in the year 2002.

“We have established our leadership in direct-to-home by usurping the category altogether,” says Salil Kapoor, chief operating officer, Dish TV India.

DishTV’s campaign comes at a time when as a category is set to explode. Indeed, experts aver the DTH industry might emulate the telecom sector over the next few years with the pace of subscriber addition. Take this for proof. The market has grown from about 4 million subscribers in 2007 to close to 45 million DTH connections currently (Source: MPA India DTH Tracker). DishTV is the largest among the six major private players in this industry-that also includes Bharti Airtel, RCOM, Tata sky, and Videocon-with revenue of more than Rs 1,436 crore (FY2011) and a gross subscriber base of 12.5 million. DishTV also has the lowest subscriber acquisition cost of Rs 2,124 (Q3 FY12) compared to the industry average of Rs 3,000-Rs 4,000.

According to Kapoor, the current campaign should not be construed as a break from the past; rather it should be seen as a reflection of its commitment to provide undiluted entertainment to the fanatic. Kapoor explains how the positioning strategy evolved over time and why it now revolves around stoking passion. “When DishTV was launched our biggest competitor was the local cable guy,” he says. “The task then was to urge consumers to move out of the comfort zone and opt for a completely new platform, direct to home. So we said ‘Wish Karo. Dish Karo’ to build awareness about DTH as a delivery option. Over the next few years, the nature of competition changed — then it was cable plus the five other DTH players. So we said ‘Ghar aayi zindagi’ to engage the consumer emotionally and make the DishTV the centre of their family lives. Now we have to take the discourse to a higher emotional plane as we are also competing now with digital cable. So we decided to occupy the whole space of entertainment.”

Logical, but a path fraught with danger. History has shown that generic branding is a cruel marketing irony as brands like Escalator or Xerox have found. Sometimes when a company successfully pushes a product to the forefront of its category and when the brand or trademark starts to be identified with the sector, it can kill profits as other businesses wade in and ride the trailblazer’s goodwill. 

But the DishTV brass is not worried. “We realise that technology and price cannot be sustainable advantages,” says Kapoor. “Technology can be replicated and a price war can pull an entire category down. So we needed a pitch that reverberated with the passionate consumer. In every category you will find these passionate consumers who are the real ambassadors or advocates of a particular brand. These are people who would go any length to get their dose of entertainment.” So you have this magician forgetting his tricks, a mother chopping her son’s cricket ball instead of the veggies as she devours her favourite show or the guy pushing his television trolley to the washroom so as not to miss even a bit of the television fare.

DishTV is also doing a few other things to keep the diehard fan engaged. It recently launched the Dish truHD+ service that doesn’t only feature high definition content, but also allows unlimited recording of the television programmes. This fills up a significant gap in DishTV’s offering as four other DTH service providers already offer the DVR facility. The new offering is part of Dish TV’s Rs 25 crore marketing blitz aimed at promoting its new positioning. The company expects the HD DVR launch to substantially add to its existing 2.5 lakh HD subscriber base. Currently, Dish TV’s HD ARPU is Rs 450 vis-a-vis its overall ARPU of Rs 152.

“All these initiatives will eventually extend your thought — leadership positioning,” sums up Salil Kapoor.

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