Mumbai: When Pogo starts its new series about the adventures of ‘Chhota Bheem’ and his gang in the mythical land of Dholakpur next week, the episodes will also be about Kellogg’s quest to sell more chocolate cereal. Chhota Bheem’s escapades will revolve around a river of milk, chocolaty waterfall and volcano in a storyline co-scripted by Kellogg and Pogo. There will be a new character – Coco, the Kellogg mascot. While in-film product placements and co-promotion are not new, the world’s largest cereal maker is taking it to another level by co-producing the four-part series of branded entertainment starring its mascot, which will air for at least three months.
“What we are now getting is content close to 20 minutes from four episodes each, which will amplify our frequency and will work far better than a 30-second TV commercial. At the same time, children will have better and unique experiences too,” said Harpreet Singh Tibb, marketing director at Kellogg India. The attempt is not just to break the clutter of TV commercials but also to leverage the growing fan base of its property Chocoland with Chhota Bheem, one of the country’s most popular cartoon character.
Big advertisers are beginning to see value in creating such branded entertainment. Hindustan Unilever tied up with youth channel MTV India to launch six films inspired by the philosophies of their brands, while the film ‘Mere Dad KiMaruti’ helped Maruti Suzuki India’s Ertiga. But there’s a risk, if it’s not too subtle, it could easily be considered a lengthy advertisement and ignored. “We will stick to the basic rules, the content cannot be compromised and must have strong viewer appeal. There is no force fit of messaging or product,” said JuhiRavindranath, vice-president for ad sales in South Asia at Turner International India, which has channels including Pogo and Cartoon Network. Pogo competes with Disney Channel India, Nickelodeon and Hungama.
For Kellogg, it’s part of a larger strategy to develop its mascot as a standalone kid’s brand rather than just be associated with cereals. In the Rs 800 crore organised Indian breakfast cereal market, Kellogg holds a more than 60% share but competition has intensified as companies such as PepsiCo, GlaxoSmithKline and Dr. Oetker push products such as oats, muesli and ready-to-eat Indian options. Kellogg is doing its bit, too.
It tied up with Meru Cabs to provide a breakfast kit for passengers and with ACK Media to feature its mascot in the folklore of Tinkle comics. Kellogg India, with brands such as Heart to Heart Oats, Chocos and Honey Loops, crossed the Rs 500 crore sales mark last year.