Thursday, January 06, 2022

Nickelodeon India's Sonic Celebrates 'Tenniversary' Amidst Ratings High

It was on 19 December 2011 that Sonic, part of India’s leading kids’ entertainment franchise – Nickelodeon, went live. Entering an already cluttered and competitive market, since inception Sonic has engaged and entertained kids with stories that bring happiness in their lives. Starting from the bottom of the charts during its initial years, the channel has grown to become an entertainment hub and continues to rule the hearts and minds of its young viewers, as it turns 10.

Rising through the ranks, the kids’ category has witnessed Sonic’s journey from seventh position since its launch a decade ago to the third position in 2020-21 and currently a strong No. 1 in its anniversary week. With a reach of 28.2 million as of November 2021, Sonic plays a significant role in strengthening leadership for the Nickelodeon franchise. With viewers spending 119 minutes on an average per week, Sonic currently commands 13 per cent market share. From the launch of its first show Kung Fu Panda – The Legend of Awesomeness to its latest home-grown IP Pinaki and Happy – The Bhoot Bandhus, the show contributes 30 per cent of the channels ratings and consistently appears in the category’s Top 10 slots since its launch. Sonic has crafted and carved its growth story upon engaging stories, endearing characters and solid kids connect. 

Speaking on Sonic’s journey over the last decade Viacom18 head of Hindi mass entertainment and kids TV network Nina Jaipuria said, “When we started our journey with Sonic a decade ago, we took a plunge in the highly competitive kids category. From then to now, Sonic has grown leaps and bounds. The success story of Sonic is a result of our kid’s first approach in driving innovation with pioneering homegrown content thus making Nickelodeon the leading franchise. We take great pride in Sonic’s success and are truly overwhelmed with the love it continues to receive from kids and advertisers alike. We are happy to have built a brand that is a destination that kids return to for their daily dose of entertainment and look forward to the next phase with enthusiasm and zeal.”

Commemorating Sonic’s decade long journey, a special birthday campaign Tenniversary is devised focusing on partnerships, expansive influencer promotions and digital engagement through an array of exciting activities that is sure to keep children entertained.

Happy 10th anniversary, Nickelodeon Sonic!

Guest Column | Three trends that will be winners in 2022 to engage with kids

2021 was a mixed year of hope along with a challenge to create new benchmarks. With a kids-first approach, broadcasters have been trying to entertain as well as empower kids at the same time’. Narrating stories that delight the minds and hearts of young audiences by introducing numerous pioneering category first engagements and initiatives is crucial to keep their spirits high. In India, with multiple spoken languages and dialects, engaging kids in a language they are comfortable continues to drive visibility. It is essential to develop an unbreakable bond with kids, in order to bring them closer to stories in a language of their choice to further strengthen the bond. Creating multi-lingual content to drive a deeper connect gives all stakeholders an opportunity to engage in a relatable manner. This target group which is dynamic, requires evolving strategies to reach out to them. 

And here are three trends that will be winners in 2022 in order to engage with kids:

Screen agnostic content

The pandemic was an epoch changing event for almost everyone, but it also had a significant impact on children, too. With kids being confined within their homes for more than a year, they were compelled to see the outside world through the lens of a screen. Today, kids are consuming content across all mediums, be it traditional mode or new age platforms. Given the success of the kids’ genre, it is important to ensure that popular characters and stories are present in all spaces to captivate young viewers. In the past few years, we at Viacom18 have been creating content with a screen and pipe agnostic approach and we strongly believe that this will continue to see greater momentum even in 2022. Content is specifically being created for YouTube and other OTT platforms thus amplifying content across multiple screens. This ecosystem of content is evolving beyond television screen and as content creators, offering experiences that are as per screen preference is crucial in today’s evolving times. 

Affinity towards home-grown IPs

As content creators, it is of utmost importance to know your audience and their evolving tastes. Kids are a very dynamic group of audience that keep you on your toes. Only if you know your target audience well, can you build a strong resonance value. It is important to be able to create the character which can build a very strong relationship and bond with the child. For a child to return back to your channel, it is important for the child to fall in love with the show, character and the storyline. The kids’ category in India has grown from strength to strength over the last decade with local characters taking centre stage and becoming a part of every kid’s daily life. At Nickelodeon in India, we have been torch-bearers in driving this growth through introducing kids to many iconic local characters that are endearing and have struck a chord with kids. Creating home-grown stories and characters will give an opportunity to create content that kids love and find comfort in. These home-grown IPs will further lead to opportunities beyond the screen through various immersive experiences. 

Unique brand partnerships:

Compared to the other genres, the kids’ category is still considered under-indexed when it comes to revenue or investments. But with an increase in the kids’ viewership, brands are now setting their foot in this category at a slow and steady pace. The category is also leisurely gaining attention from different brands for partnership. Engaging kids beyond the screen through immersive and unique brand partnerships will result in deeper engagement with the audience. 

Considering the daily changing scenarios hampering routines, kids have managed to stay ahead of the curve. Today, kids have a ‘bring it on’ attitude which helps them embrace anything and everything that comes their way.


Marketing To Hyper Current Kids

Nickelodeon is looking to hone its strategies to engage and inform kids in the most meaningful ways in the coming year

Marketing to kids in 2022 will be like juggling multiple balls with great skill and speed. This target group is dynamic, quick to adapt and the true change agents of society. In a day and age when reality changes daily, kids even though cut off from their usual routines and rituals have truly managed to stay ahead of the curve. They  are hyper-connected, resilient and ready to embrace whatever comes their way. When it comes to doing what we do best at Nickelodeon, our approach has always been kids first. What kids need at this time besides top-notch entertainment, is to be kept safe, informed, enthused and engaged. Here are a few of the trends that would be worth watching out for while communicating with kids in 2022.

The Change Agents
The rise of the kid who wants to make a difference is here to stay. After having been exposed to the realities of the pandemic, kids have emerged as change agents who wish to help. Some of the biggest citizen movements and initiatives were championed by kids who went out of their way to mobilise resources for those in need. Brands would need to empower kids and allow them to be heard. All this can be done in a light-hearted manner that would appeal to them but it’s imperative that kids be taken seriously.

Content Across Multiple Screens
Kids are very open to experimenting with content- be it bite-sized or snacky, long-form, dance videos or AI-enabled and immersive. The more the message is sharply curated, the more you will have the attention of this TG. The pandemic reinstated the power and perks of such communication and brands have the opportunity to have a more meaningful dialogue than they could in the past. Kids are naturally comfortable with multiple screens. Whether it is watching their favourite toons on TV or a tablet, playing games with favourite characters on mobile, marketing plans need to be pivoted to suit the needs of the current environment.

Adoption & Deeper Integration of Technology
Kids are the earliest adopters when it comes to technology. This generation is widely exposed to the use of technologies like voice search, hyper-personalised experiences, artificial intelligence and social media as a way of life. The digital world allows children to interact with their favorite toons through games, AR filters, GIFs and stickers on social media platforms. Creating digital strategies has thus become a creative and engaging marketing tool for every marketeer talking to kids.

Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has taken on a life of its own in the past few months and is only set to grow. With the increase in ownership of personal handheld devices, brands have been able to create amazing brand stories specific to the platform, be it YouTube or Instagram. The new breed of influencers is an effective way of reaching kid who is very tech-savvy and aware of the message they wish to consume.

Innovation in Brand Collaborations
Kids share a bond with their favourite toons and creating innovative brand partnerships is another marketing tool that helps to engage and entice kids beyond television screens. Collaborating with like-minded brands that kids love can create deeper bonds.

Despite all the innovations and rapid acceleration in technology, we must remember that kids want to be heard and want to escape into their own world of entertainment that fuels their imagination. Happy 2022!


Year Ender: Viacom18 head of marketing – kids TV network Sonali Bhattacharya talks about Nickelodeon’s marketing campaigns and reveals their 2022 plans

While the pandemic disrupted various plans, the marketing teams had to adapt newer techniques in a short span of time to continue to cover the new grounds, and confront the unprecedented challenges. One of India’s leading kids’ broadcasters, Nickelodeon, initiated many interesting and innovative marketing techniques to stay connected with the kids even in a crisis.

In an interview with AnimationXpress, Viacom18 head of marketing – kids TV network Sonali Bhattacharya shared the various challenges they faced, how the channel promoted its shows during the pandemic and gave details about its different marketing initiatives.

Speaking about the challenges that the marketing team faced during the pandemic, Bhattacharya mentioned, “Within one night, half of our marketing plans had to be shelved as they couldn’t be put into motion as none of the touchpoints existed anymore. We had to pivot our plans overnight, and think multi-screen and reach different platforms. We started curating our content in such a way that it should bond with kids on any possible screen they are connected to because it was a huge and single source of entertainment to kids when they were indoors.”

She further added, “Escaping in the world of their favourite cartoon characters gave the kids a great sense of respite, relief, and positive energy. During the lockdowns, a lot of things we did were DIY and collaborated with a lot of influencers to make the kids engage and participate from their own homes. We launched #Nicksaysdance,#Sonicschoolofpool where Sonic toons gave kids a lot of tips on digital and technological hacks, and shortcuts that helped them to perform well at school and virtual classes. We tried to make the screen time as meaningful for the child by keeping them extremely positive. As a leading brand, we always keep kids as our first priority. As things are getting normal and opening, we are hopeful that we connect on-ground again but as we know the reality changes everyday.”

Bhattacharya believes that while marketing content for kids, the kids’ marketer should keep the child’s safety in mind, and the content should be light-hearted and humorous which clicks best with the kids. “Nickelodeon always empowers kids and gives them a platform to express themselves. They are the most innocent target groups and at the same time very dynamic,” added Bhattacharya.

Brand Collaboration

As the kids and families were homebound during the lockdown, Nick collaborated with various food brands like Belgian Waffle, Smoking Joe’s, and New York Burrito Company to make the food reach the kids in Nickelodeon branded boxes with their show stickers. Commenting on the collaboration with the food brands and how the response has been from the kids and families, Bhattacharya elaborated, “During the lockdown kids and families are locked up indoors and there was a huge surge of home deliveries as people were not able to go out and eat their favourite foods. We saw a massive rise in the way Swiggy and Zomato delivered the food. We were challenged on how to reach people and kids during the pandemic, as we were not allowed to do on-ground activation which we typically follow to engage with kids. We had to think out of the box and innovate to see how we reach out to kids in a positive and effective way. Then we thought of partnering with food brands and giving Nickelodeon twist and fun on waffles, donuts, pizzas which are the most favourite food for kids and families. The food products and packaging were curated with cartoon characters like Golmaal Junior, Chikoo Aur Bunty, as kids share a great bond with Nicktoons. It did wonders for our partners, as partnering with leading cartoon characters who have a strong bond with kids is a win-win for them. It was a very big success for both, the innovation we tried paid off very well.”

Digital Campaigns

Nick has always stepped ahead in keeping the kids entertained, engaged, and connected with their friends and social peers. The channel kickstarted various digital campaigns like #toastyourdost, #beaherotoyoursuperhero,#nostressexpress, and many more. “Lot of partnerships happened through online and missed calls as kids are now digital native and for them to get connected and participate in a contest is something they love to do. One of our campaign – #toastyourdost – was launched in the month of friendship, as friendship saw a great change during the lockdown. Even though the kids were away from school and were meeting each other only at playgrounds, they managed to stay connected virtually. We wanted to give them a platform and opportunity to celebrate and toast every kind of friend they have in the group whether it may be a bukkad dost, chippo dost, late lateef dost. We always look forward to making the kids express themselves and again this campaign turned out to be the best as a lot of conversations took place on social media and some amazing anecdotes were shared between friends. It worked well for Nick,” shared the marketing head.

Other than launching new shows and new episodes to keep the kids engaged and entertained, the broadcaster kept the little one’s health in mind and partnered with SARVA Yoga Studios to bring Yoga closer to its little fans and educate them about the enormous benefits derived from Yoga. Nickelodeon brought yoga to its audiences in a more cool and fun manner through a unique interactive Yoga workshop with Nicktoons Shiva, Rudra, and Happy. 

In an attempt to redefine the craze for Ludo through the kids’ most favourite characters, thus making the game more fun to play, Nick partnered with Google. Talking about the success and reach the Nicktoons Ludo achieved, Bhattacharya mentioned, “We never imagined it would be such a success. Nostalgia turned out to be a very big book for audiences during the lockdown. Everything that was popular a few years ago suddenly came back with a huge front seat; be it a mythological content or a parent sitting and watching Motu Patlu as a stress buster with kids at home. Games like Ludo, Carrom, Snakes and Ladders were played by kids and parents when they were locked up at home. So we thought of giving an amazing new twist to the classic games. We approached Google to support us in this initiative. The beauty of the game was that it has been customised with Nicktoons Motu-Patlu, Rudra-Rangeela, Shiva-Reva, and Happy-Pinaki. We also curated games like Snakes and Ladders with Happy and Pinaki and Carrom with Chikoo Aur Bunty. This initiative was appreciated and received well by kids as the bond they share with Nicktoons is phenomenal.”

Plans for 2022

Revealing Nick licensing and merchandising plans for 2022 and how they adapted to digital creative methods by curating Nicktoons GIFs, AR  filters, and stickers to make kids digital experience more interactive, Bhattacharya said, “Merchandising is an ongoing process as kids want to have a physical connection with characters they adore so much; be it a school bag with Rudra on it, or water bottle with Shiva on it, or notebook with Dora on it. It is not going to end till the kids share the unique friendships with their favourite toons. 

We have many plans in our mind, and as things are opening up, it is going to be better and best in the coming years. We are getting newer brands onboard and our current roster of toons are foraying into far deeper categories of products; from consumer goods, apparel, to electronics and we are also moving into virtual space which we don’t characterise as merchandising and licensing but it is a creative marketing engagement we do with the audience through our Nicktoons GIFs, stickers, emoji which is all about moving into digital space and giving that connect to our kids.”

Looking forward to 2022, a hopeful Bhattacharya said, “In 2022, we will continue to cater a lot of entertainment and we have planned a lot of marketing campaigns where we connect with kids multi-screen, curate content by getting many popular influencers on board. We continue to empower, bring smiles on kids’ faces. We are planning for many new launches. As things are opening up in upcoming months, you can see our marketing campaigns taking on a larger scale beyond screens. Looking forward to 2022 as there is a lot in the pipeline!”


Originally published: December 21, 2021.

Sources: AnimationXpressafaqs!.

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