By: Yohan P Chawla
The very recent past has been a little season of new initiatives at ZEEL. First, there was the new Masala Bollywood Channel ZEE Bollywood, which, straight off its mark, raced into the Top 5 Hindi Movie channels per BARC. Then, there was the complete rebranding of & TVAnd now, Zee Bangla has joined the party and is here with a fresh brand look. The channel has refreshed its brand identity and positioning to “NotunChhondeyLikhboJibon” (orchestrating life in a new rhythm). And it’s targeting the middle-class Bengali woman and her aspirations in life.
Strategically, Zee Bangla has timed this very smartly, bringing on the brand refresh right when Bengal is at its celebratory best, with the Durga Puja festive season.
Zee Bangla’s brand refresh has been fueled by a beautifully crafted brand anthem composed by brilliant music director Shantanu Moitra and sung by Shreya Ghoshal, who undoubtedly has one of the sweetest voices in the Indian music industry. The refresh in the form of a new brand look, feel, identity and a new philosophy was revealed on air on Sunday night, the 7th of October, on Zee Bangla’s singing reality show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa.
I caught up with three important leaders – Prathyusha Agarwal, CMO, ZEEL; Amit Shah, Cluster Head – Regional Markets, ZEEL and Samrat Ghosh, Business Head – Zee Bangla and Zee Bangla Cinema, ZEEL for an insightful chat on various aspects surrounding the full-fledged refresh of ZEE Bangla.
Brand Philosophy in line with the GEC mother brand
Prathyusha Agarwal, CMO, ZEEL, told me, “Zee Bangla’s positioning is in line with the larger general entertainment mother brand. We at Zee consider the woman of middle-class household as the ‘Lokkhi’ (Goddess Lakshmi in Bengali). The brand’s philosophy is about resonating with the great Indian middle-class and being the voice of their inner spark and also the spirit. It’s about crafting that life with a new rhythm and taking charge.
“I think somewhere we are talking to the middle-class Indian spirit through the woman who kind of breaks that in action and moves the family forward. For us it’s in line with Zee’s over all philosophy of connecting with the middle-class roots of the country in each region, and in that culture and language,” Agarwal said.
Zee Bangla’s New Brand Identity
The channel’s look and feel too, Agarwal said, “is again in line with the large circular look that all Zee channels have. The visual, brand and sound identity portray a sub-conscious communication of what the brand means. The red colour depicts the regional and cultural nuance of Bengal, which is visible in the logo. We have taken the conceptual idea and married it to the local cultural nuance.”
Since the new brand philosophy talks about inspiring the aspirational Bengali middle-class women, did they try to make the logo too aspirational? “Yes,” said Agarwal. “We have very consciously created the look, feel and channel identities to make sure that they are aspirational. You know, Zee Bangla could definitely be an international channel. We’re very-very design-nazi in that sense,” she smiled.
“In fact we’ve been working on the brand refresh for about 18 months. We have worked on literally one frame at a time in order to make the channel look truly aspirational — not just for the Bengali audience in India, but anywhere across the world, because we have a huge international footprint as well,” Agarwal said.
Women-centric brand philosophy
I also met Amit Shah, Cluster Head – Regional Markets, ZEEL, on the channel refresh. I asked him why Zee Bangla is addressing only women; doesn’t he think that the people of Bengal and Eastern India are very culturally charged and evolved, and an open society? So why only the women, apart from the fact that they are a big TV-consuming TG?
Shah said, “Yes, in the new brand positioning, we have focused on the woman of the house. And that’s because at the end of the day, the woman of the house ensures that the entire family is carried along. Having said that, at specific times for specific target groups there are certain things which are also included in our channel FPC. For instance, on Sundays, we have cartoon shows for children. Non-fiction per se also attracts a higher skew of male audiences to the channel. There are certain times when we do events along with fiction and non-fiction, which also cater to a different sort of TG and sometimes to a much younger group actually.”
“At the end of the day, if the story of a show is nice, it carries everyone along, and everybody likes to watch it. Zee Bangla’s focus is on the Bengali women, but it is rendered in a manner that it encapsulates the entire family. The Bengali woman not only wants to carry herself forward but also her family. That principle is something we always use while we generate content.” Shah said.
Zee Bangla’s content appeal in the international markets
Zee Bangla is not only the leading GEC in West Bengal and in fact the Indian Bengali regional market, but is also the Number 1 channel in Bangladesh and is well loved by Bengalis and Bangla-speaking people around the world.
Samrat Ghosh, Business Head – Zee Bangla and Zee Bangla Cinema, ZEEL, told me, “The entire Bengali diaspora which stays in the US, Australia, Europe, and Middle-East or anywhere in the world, loves the Bengali content we create. Since we are a satellite channel, we reach out to many countries worldwide. Zee Bangla is an extremely popular and loved channel. Through our consumer feedback mechanism we get a lot of accolades from the overseas markets. We are the number 1 channel in Bangladesh.”
Sharing one such instance where Zee Bangla was appreciated by Bengalis living abroad, Ghosh said, “When, around two seasons ago, we introduced Bengali folk songs through Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, we were overwhelmed to see the sort of accolades we received from the international markets such as US and Australia. People started calling and writing to us that a dying form of art, Bengali folk songs, had been brought back not just to life but into the limelight by Zee Bangla.”
Zee Bangla’s Success Recipe
I asked Ghosh to list out any three reasons for Zee Bangla’s success, and he said with great aplomb, “A robust consumer insight coupled with the right content designing and offering to the consumers, which is ably supported by the marketing activities and other functions, and finally the great team work of Zee Bangla are the key reasons for our success.”
With over 250 million Bengali speaking people all over the world, and the two biggest concentrations of Bengali speaking people contiguously placed – in Bengal and Eastern India, and across the border in Bangladesh – the Bengali regional GEC market has remained one of understandably fierce competition. Zee Bangla has been ahead of the pack. How well the refreshed new packaging will help it cement its emotional connects with the audiences is something that remains to be seen. While the mind is far more upmarket and aspirationally defined through its new look, the heart is still in the right, mass place of the highest numbers of women viewers. Who, one feels, will have a good opportunity to interact and connect with a less traditional, more aspirational visual representation of the channel.
Entertain your audiences, and help them evolve. That sounds like a good mission for a GEC to be on.