For an entire generation of quiz afficionados, the original Kaun Banega Crorepati had been the Bournvita Quiz Contest or BQC. To wake up on a Sunday morning and watch quizmaster, Derek O'Brien fire questions at youngsters, in their uniforms representing their schools, had become a ritual for many in the nineties.
While many of its ardent fans would be surprised by its 40-year old heritage, some would remember its recent chequered past, of being taken off-air intermittently. This Sunday, viewers get to reconnect with the show, being relaunched on Colors.
Bournvita's brand association with the quiz format has had its share of setbacks (changing channel partners and discontinuity), but it is also one of the longest in the country.
The association started as a live quiz show in 1972, held in schools across cities. The very next year, it made its media debut. It was aired on the trusty All India Radio and enjoyed an innings of almost 20 years, conducted by Hamid Sayani and later, his brother, Ameen Sayani.
Narayan Sundararaman, category director - beverages, candy & gum, consumer insight and strategy, Mondelez International says, "BQC began as a means to contribute to the development of young minds, letting them compete in a healthy way."
The property had other facets too, such as athletics and painting competitions. However, it is only the quiz that has endured through the years.
In 1992, a little after the economic liberalisation, the brand got in step with India's increasing choice in media. The show transitioned from radio to satellite television.
Not always a clean sweep
Speculation puts the split from ZEE TV down to either a fallout on monetary issues or a change in the channel's programming strategy. Whereas, in 2006-08, says Sundararaman, the brand dabbled in other properties such as The Bournvita Confidence Cham-pion and Confidence Academy, in line with its positioning that asked: 'Do you have Bournvita confidence?'
"We attempted to mould the brand into the world of kids and competition when our positioning was 'confidence'. We did that for a few years. But the second the positioning had to change, the property became less relevant," says Sundararaman. The Confidence properties marked the first time Bournvita attempted to align them with its positioning. BQC never saw such an influence.
Even though the brand's positioning changed over the years - from focusing on the goodness of growth, strength of both the mind and body (Tan ki shakti, man ki shakti) to its latest Tayyari jeet ki (In preparation for victory) - it never influenced BQC's format in any way.
Evolve in form
BQC's existence has been marked by organic growth. It has gone from being a 10-city show, covering 300 schools and 600 participants in 1994 to covering 100 cities, 5,000 schools and 30,000 participants. Just like its shift from radio to television, it is now on the omnipresent second screen of mobile devices with its own application.
Simplicity of form
How does a brand continue such a long association, despite hiccups? Sundararaman says the nature of the show defined its popularity: "It is knowledge-based, has one school competing against another, rather than individuals, heightening the emotional underpinnings of success for the participants as well as the viewers (connected to the competing schools). This universal insight is timeless."
Branding expert, Jagdeep Kapoor, CMD, Samsika Marketing Consultants, says, "There are a few key reasons for BQC's longevity. First, as a show, it holds an intellectual appeal for the young audience and an emotional connect for the parents. This bodes well with the Indian audience since we are predisposed to the pursuit of knowledge and excellence therein. It helps that the brand has restricted its presence mainly to the title. When you speak about intellect and a brain-over-brawn audience, it is better to be latent than blatant." But he adds that it is the spirit of winning in the series which has worked best for the brand, as it has always been implicit in Bournvita's positioning.
Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults mentions, "With its constancy, it has established the natural associations between intelligence, knowledge and smartness with the brand."
BQC has been more consistent than seasonal sponsorships that are known to change, hampering the connect between a brand and its branded content. Changing sponsors of sports events, for example, do not let the consumer draw ever-lasting parallels between the brands and the sport, which Bournvita has been able to achieve.
The company claims its 2013 comeback was a result of requests on a social network for the show to be revived. Fans or branding need, whatever the trigger, one of the longest, branded content will go on air this weekend, keeping its date with a Sunday audience.
1972: Live quiz in multiple cities
1973-91: A radio show
1992-2001: Televised quiz show with Derek O'Brien as the host on ZEE TV
2001-06: Show moves to Sony
2006: Replaced by the property 'The Bournvita Confidence Champion' on Sony. Cadbury Bournvita Confidence Academy runs on Pogo in 2008
2007-10: BQC remains off-air
2011: BQC comes back on Colors, after "fans launch a campaign on Facebook" to bring the show back; movement called 'Bring BQC Back'
2013: BQC completes 40 years; to be relaunched yet again