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News |  13 Oct 2010 10:47 |  By RnMTeam

RnM Navratri Series: Radio Mirchi - The whole nine yards

RnM bring you the Navratri Plans of Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM, India's most successful private FM Network which claims to have over 41 million listeners across 32 stations. The company launched its first station in October 2001 in Indore. Later,  in about a year, Mirchi made its presence felt in six more cities. After Phase-2 of licensing in 2006,Mirchi expanded its network to 25 additional stations, thus taking the total number of stations to 32.

Shikha Shah and Pavan R Chawla spoke with Sujata Bhatt, EVP, Corporate Strategy and Marketing, ENIL,  who feels to build a strong relationship with its listeners, a radio station must involve them in every little initiative.

Navratri is all about religious fervour through music and dance. What is your strategy to attract the maximum listeners? What are the programming  specials that you have planned to be able to co-opt the on-ground fun, celebration and masti from the Navratri pandals?

We are having specials across various Mirchi stations. In Mumbai for instance, almost all the shows have a flavor of Navratri till the 16th of October. Each show is covering different aspects of the festival. The Morning show �Hi Mumbai' has Jeeturaaj talk about more traditional stories related to the festival.

The afternoon shows Dheemi Local 1 and 2 are asking listeners to go traditional this year and inviting Mumbai to share the best places to shop for the perfect Navratri get ups. They are discussing authentic, traditional food made during this time. We are also running a contest, â€?Navratri Pe  Nau Din Nau Mummyaan.' You see, Mirchi jocks love food and are always looking for a treat. So some moms of Mumbai, masters at Navratri food, are being requested to feed us with their best Navratri dishes. For each day of Navratri, we shortlist one mommy basis the taste of her dish and her enthusiasm factor. On the 15th of  October, we have a â€?Mommy Face Off' when all the shortlisted moms will come to the Mirchi studio with their dishes. The Mirchi jocks will taste and grade the food and announce the winner.

Our show, �Sunset Samosa' is capturing the sounds and preparations of the festival in the city. We are also talking to eminent singers about their favourite Navratri memories and getting them to sing their favourite Garba-Navratri songs.

Moreover, we have tied up with the biggest Dandiya in the city – �Sankalp'. Mirchi is giving its listeners passes to the garba event across all time bands.

To which cities and how will you extend this programming?

We are celebrating Navratri in a big way across all four cities in Gujarat. There are many specials under way in Rajkot, Vadodara , Surat and Ahmedabad. Wheel of Fortune is an on-air version of the Wheel of Fortune. Wherever the wheel stops,  a winner gets a lucky prize. Winners stand a chance to win gold by tuning into and taking part in the contest.

We believe Navratri should be all about fun, dance and music. Hence we have launched â€?Mirchi Cr?¨che', a first-of-its-kind initiative that makes lives easier for couples who have young babies  Mirchi has been organizing a cr?¨che service where parents drop their babies and go on and enjoy the festival. We have tied up with a certified baby care agency of Ahmedabad which is providing this service.

We have tied up with Uninor across cities in Gujarat for their concept 'Uninor Dynamic Dandiya 2010', one of the biggest Dandiyas being organized in the state where we have passes being given out to listeners as part of on-air contest every day across the stations.

We also have two celebrities hosting an evening show on Mirchi. Prachi Desai and Garba King Devang Patel are visiting for a day each in all four of these stations. We have a special canter going around the city giving passes to people to join in the festivities.

On air, other than the festive mood of all the programming elements like stationalities, sweepers and bumpers, we have created a special �Mirchi Aarti' to celebrate the occasion which is broadcast every night at 9 pm. We have folk Garba songs playing between 9 to 12 pm to keep the people of Gujarat in high spirits.

In Kolkata, especially, these nine days should be a massive opportunity. What are your special plans for the city?

Puja in Kolkata is different from Navratri. It's more to do with pandal-hopping, shopping and beauty makeovers.

Before the Puja, we had lined up a set of TV  stars to interact with our listeners. Not only did the listeners get a sneak-peek into their lives but came to know of their Puja plans and their beauty secrets. We also formed a group of young volunteers named â€?Singhabahini' who have skimmed the city. We are highlighting all innovative pandals this year, their themes, their specialties,  so that people can plan in advance which pandals to go to . This year we have an on-air special on â€?Mahishasurmardini' – the legendary program which gets aired on the Mahalaya day. We tried to trace the origin of this program, speak to the people involved to know their experiences and their journey.

The whole station is resonating with the sounds of Durga Puja. We have a Pujor Gaan every top-of-the hour. We are doing a complete stationality change to suit the Puja. We have even gone beyond our normal schedules and will go live till late in the night during the Pujas. This is a time when the entire city lights up from Sasthi to Dasami and people are going from one pandal to the other the entire night. As a utility, we will give live updates on every Puja night till 1 am and till 4 am on Navami night to trap the excitement.

We have had various on-air specials leading up to the Pujas. There has been a galaxy of leading vernacular stars in our station like Prosenjit Chatterjee, Jisshu Sengupta, Rituparna Sengupta, Nandana Sen and Abir Chatterji  We also had most of the Puja albums playing exclusively on our stations with the singers live for Pujo Adda – with Rupankar, Rupam Islaam, Babul Supriyo, Bhoomi, and Bhupinder and Mitali Singh in the studio.

We like to involve our listeners in whatever we do. Here is the agenda:

·We did a contest amongst our listeners to create a  Mirchi jingle. We received tremendous response and the new jingle was also put to tune and recorded. The same â€?Mirchi Pujo Jingle' is playing on-air.

·On Panchami, we are taking shortlisted listeners on a helicopter ride for an aerial Puja Parikrama.

·We are taking listeners in buses on Sasthi, Saptami and Ashtami for Puja Parikrama to the best pandals of Kolkata. It's a comfortable journey in an AC bus with three meals.

·We have had programmes on the â€?Bonedi Bari Pujo' (Pujas in the houses) and apartment Pujas where we highlighted each of the Pujas.

·We have had a slew of customized Puja-centric plans to maximize revenues.

What are your promotional plans during Navratri, especially for listeners?

All elements of programming – the station jingles, the break end bumpers; the sweepers between songs have a festive sound.

Apart from doing specials on air which would entertain existing listeners, we are doing many on air contests like the �Wheel of Fortune' in Gujarat. Such contests are attracting a lot of listeners. Also, there are many other touch points being established with the people of the city. We are doing a canter activity in Gujarat wherein passes to the biggest Dandiya in town are being given out on ground. So even those who haven't heard about the celebrations can feel the spirit. This helps build an association with the brand.

How do you plan to market Radio Mirchi's Navratri offerings?

Apart from what I just mentioned, we have tied up with Sankalp Dandiya which is  happening at Goregaon Sports Club, Mumbai. We are giving away more than 20 couple passes every day. We have Live Broadcasts from the venue daily to keep listeners updated. We have Rahul Vaidya interviews on air with Mirchi branding on the ground.

What are your special offerings during Navratri for ad sales? What special properties have you developed to help local businesses and regional/national brands strengthen their businesses through advertising with you?

Almost all the properties that we have mentioned above have been extended to sponsors who are riding on the euphoria created by the unique programming elements created during this time. All our properties around Navratri have been endorsed by sponsors - these are retail clients like jewellery shops , real estate clients and apparel brands. The same is the case in Kolkata, where we have properties like Pujo Parikrama, Pujo Mirchi Jingle, Mirchi Radio Bazaar, Mirchi Band Hunt, Clean Kolkata Before Pujo and �Maa Durga ebaar amaar number!!' for clients to sponsor.

Traditionally, how does Navratri impact advertising on Radio in general, and on your station / network in particular?

Navratri is a time which has unique programming deliverables and great opportunities for brands to associate with them. It is also the time when retail brands do a lot of business. In fact, during this season there is more demand for our inventory than we can actually provide. In fact we had taken a price increase a few days back in anticipation of the huge demand supply mismatch that is created at this time, and are hopeful the festive season will provide good revenue growth .

It is a great time for clients too, as they would get great value for their spends as the festive mood and specials draw a more involved and larger audience to the channel. It also allows clients to get equity on air in the form of editorial integration with various specials, which helps them differentiate.