The entertainment house wants business not only from broadcasters but also from internet users, online gamers.
Around six months back, a UTV employee from the communications group walked up to the group founder, Ronnie Screwvala. “Sir, I have an idea,” she suggested hesitantly. “We should launch a book commemorating UTV’s journey in the media business, and highlight our other consumer businesses too, to mark our company’s 20th anniversary.”
Screwvala jumped at the idea. He called the other team members and tossed around the idea. After much brainstorming, the members reached a consensus that the group had done a lot more which could not be captured by just a book. Why not, instead, develop a brand strategy that would reflect the changes the group had undergone in the 20 years? The idea was fleshed out, and what emerged was a brand overhauling exercise which included the introduction of a new logo and integration of the various UTV businesses under a single brand identity.
The reasons were compelling. Twenty years back, when United Television(aka UTV) set shop to produce television content for Doordarshan and even made a few ad films, it wanted to be taken seriously by its clients — broadcasters. Today, the brand has moved much beyond being just a content creator. UTV produces movies and television content, plays broadcaster for youth, business and film-loving audiences, and is an emerging brand in both the gaming and mobile platforms.
“We felt the need for a new identity to brandish our growth as a company,” asserts Zarina Mehta, co-founder and director, UTV Software Communications. The company has invested about Rs 3.5 crore in its branding exercise, which will be completed by July this year. While Mehta did not divulge the brand campaign details, she says: “You will see the new UTV identity – across our channels, films, content, games, websites and mobile apps. Just the 4 UTV channels (not including Bloomberg UTV) reach 126 million urban consumers directly, giving us a healthy reach to advertise the change in brand’s logo.”
Mehta, responsible for the start-up and creation of some of UTV’s major divisions, chose the new UTV logo from about 400 logos that came in from eight agencies across the globe. “Bonsey Designs, a Singapore-based agency, designed the new look of UTV and when we tested the same across our 1,500 employees, the response was simply overwhelming. Everybody loved it,” recalls Mehta even as her faces lights up.
Meanwhile, the brand integration at UTV has begun, starting with its gaming companies that are being renamed as UTV Indiagames, UTV True Games and UTV Ignition Games. As the part of the overall brand evaluation exercise, a singular identity will now be applied to UTV’s film, TV, content, gaming and new media business.
Doing things differently has been in UTV’s DNA, says Mehta. In 1995, UTV produced India’s first daily soap opera, Shanti, for Doordarshan. With cable TV’s launch, UTV quickly graduated its content to Zee and Star TV. The company also produced the first game show, Snakes and Ladders for the Indian audiences. Today, according to UTV, on an average week 70 million individuals watch its group channels with viewers spending an average 60 thousand hours watching channels from the UTV Group.
Cutting through the clutter to appease the younger sections of the society is something that UTV has done across sectors. Be it on the youth channel, UTV Bindass, which chose to launch programmes like Emotional Atyachar and Dadagiri to compete with market leaders like Channel V and MTV. Or UTV Action that has introduced Hollywood classics dubbed in Hindi to B & C cities’ audiences and World Movies which has brought world cinema to telly tubes.
Mehta reasons, “We are a creative content company at heart who is happy to include the emerging platforms in the business. We have invested in console games, mobile phone games, iPad apps and even online.” UTV is hopeful that a new brand entity will strengthen its image as an innovative brand that’s accessible across digital media platforms.
Will the branding pay? A senior media analyst points out that UTV is now looked upon as a media conglomerate, next only to Network18 Group, Reliance Entertainment or Hindustan Times. He adds, on condition of anonymity: “The company had the foresight to invest in emerging platforms like web, mobile and games — a move that cost them money and resources but has at the same time put them ahead of others. They are already ‘king’ of introducing the studio-model in Bollywood, that is not really comparable in scale to any other company.”