Will the new KBC campaign draw audiences once more? | Mint
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Business News/ Opinion / Columns/  Will the new KBC campaign draw audiences once more?
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Will the new KBC campaign draw audiences once more?

Over the last two years of the pandemic, KBC viewership declined considerably

A file photo of Amitabh Bachchan on Kaun Banega Crorepati. Premium
A file photo of Amitabh Bachchan on Kaun Banega Crorepati. 

Three thought-provoking promotional films have preceded the popular game show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) ready for launch on Sony in August. Though crafted in a lighter vein, the films created a buzz on social media for highlighting the perils of fake news circulated via messaging apps and even by TV news channels.

Amitabh Bachchan, the game show host, is shown pulling up contestants in the hot seat for not checking facts and believing all incredulous news served by media and WhatsApp forwards. His message is clear: People stand to lose if they believe or spread incorrect information.

The ads, amplified on television channels and digital media where they drew millions of views, have been directed by filmmaker Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari of Nil Battey Sannata and Bareilly Ki Barfi fame and written by well-known scriptwriter Neeraj Singh with the tag line ‘Gyaan jahaan se bhi mile bator lijiye, par pehle zara tatol lijiye’ (One should collect knowledge from everywhere but it should be checked first).

Danish Khan, business head for SET, SonyLIV & Studio Next, said the films take forward KBC’s original narrative that knowledge is a great leveller. “A few years ago, we ran “Gyaan aapko apna haq dilata hai" (Knowledge helps you win your rights) campaign. We look at what’s relevant and relatable to society and we connect it with KBC to build our campaigns," he explained.

The new films raise concerns around fake news as there’s an explosion of information today, he said. “We’re saying individuals need to be smart and clever to filter true knowledge and real news from fake news. That’s the point of the campaign and you will see the thread continue in the game show as well," Khan said.

Samit Sinha, founder, Alchemist Brand Consulting, gave an unequivocal thumbs up to KBC, saying there was a time when mass media—print, radio and television—were revered. News had indubitable credibility, facts were verified, and opinions were measured.

“Today, the lines between fact and fiction, news programmes and soap operas, and news anchors and game show hosts have blurred," he said. On top of it, social media’s reach makes it easy for anyone with an agenda, or just for the heck of it, to spread falsehood and make the gullible accept it as gospel.

“The KBC films are clearly an attempt to address this recent phenomenon. It makes sense, as a quiz show is all about facts and authenticated knowledge," he added.

However, over the last two years of the pandemic, KBC viewership declined considerably. Will the campaign bring back its audience?

Even Sony’s Khan is waiting for the answer. “The real impact of the campaign for a broadcaster will be when it sees a larger number of people come to watch the show in August. Having said that, typically, you would like your campaign to become part of conversations. In that sense, it has made some impact, but whether it translates into viewership, we will have to wait and see," said Khan. However, he adds that the fall in television rating points (TVRs) was because the show ran parallelly with the Indian Premier League. “If you see, only the time spent on the show declined (which is reflected in TVRs) but its cumulative reach did not see much impact," Khan said. “We expect viewership to return this year," he added.

Sinha said he wasn’t sure if the campaign alone will bring back viewership, but it certainly helps put KBC in the domain of fact-based knowledge as opposed to the fictional and the misinformed. “To many Indians, Amitabh Bachchan still represents old-world values and he is continued to be seen as someone with credibility and authority, making him the ideal host of the show," he added.

Sandeep Goyal, managing director at ad agency Rediffusion, however, said, that in a consumer’s mind, KBC’s authenticity is not an issue. So, the films’ attempt to nail fake news is just feel-good messaging with precious little expectation in terms of impact.

“Amitabh Bachchan is ageless and timeless. But KBC is not. It requires a serious makeover to stay relevant, fresh and entertaining," he said.

Khan assures that the new season will come up with new elements as viewers like surprises, but the audiences will have to wait for those to unravel.

Shuchi Bansal is Mint’s media, marketing and advertising editor. Ordinary Post will look at pressing issues related to all three. Or just fun stuff.

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Published: 21 Jul 2022, 12:15 AM IST
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