With over South Asian 50 channels and a growing diaspora of over 4 million, are South Asian channels hitting a roadblock in targeting the British South Asians? Zoha Tapia looks at the increase in outdoor advertising being employed by UK Asian TV channels.
Second generation British Sikh Amarjeet Punia was born and brought up in Southall. Though her parents occasionally saw South Asian television, it was never something Amarjeet was interested in. “One day, while going to work I came across these ads at Southall station of a new show Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It intrigued me. Being a Sikh, born and brought up in London, it reminded me of my cultural heritage. So, I thought why not give it a watch. Even though it’s Star Plus, something I don’t usually watch,” she explains. However, after watching the first few episodes, she got hooked on to the show and it became a part of her routine. “I would never have known about the show, if I didn’t spot the ad at the station because usually I don’t watch Asian TV.”
According to researcher Radhika Howarth, who conducted a bespoke research on the South Asian TV landscape: “Insight has shown that there has been a change in attitude amongst young South Asians. There is a growing sense of pride in embracing their culture and maintaining a connection with their parents’ roots. Bollywood films, music and fashion are key aspects that motivate, encourage and drive many second- generation Asians to maintain a close connection with Asian TV.”
What was interesting to learn through her research was how they found out about shows they would be interested to watch. Majority of them said seeing an outdoor campaign served as a reminder to active and passive audiences and encouraged viewing. “I enjoy watching reality shows like ‘Bigg Boss’ and ‘Nach Baliye’. I saw posters for it on the tube and decided to watch it,” said London-based Neha Jain, 22, Indian.
With a spurt of South Asian TV channels and a variety of shows to choose from, it becomes imperative to communicate with the audience, especially the second and third generation British Asians who may not watch South Asian TV. The success and failure of Ethnic TV channels in coming times will largely depend on their ability to keep reminding their viewers of what they are showing and how they are connecting with the younger generation. Even Netflix and Amazon Prime who have a loyal subscription base have an always on campaign strand, what changes is the content they promote.
Everyone is out there to get your attention and your mobile and digital privacy is the last place where you want intrusion, because you control it. Whether you are watching recipes, streaming videos, having a spiritual odyssey or for that matter even watching porn – this space remains sacrosanct unless and until it is an email, a social media update, an active call or maybe a What’s App message. So, where do you really get your audiences undivided attention? The need of the hour is to think out of the box and create a space, which helps you break away from the clutter. One such media which has grown over the years with innovative prospects such as LED panels, digital displays covering every mode of transport with the ability to transcend your campaign from on-ground to online has been outdoor.
Reiterating the importance of outdoor media Vikram Sembi, Account Manager at Exterion Media said, “When we look at the media landscape, we are exposed to a million ads every day. As British Asians, there are some South Asian brands we have grown up with such as Dabur, Chywanprash, snacks, even TV channels! These brands are part of our makeup and having been exposed to mainstream media everyday it doesn’t take a lot for an ethnic brand to make you take notice. As a consumer, they are aware this brand is especially for them and visual recognition in a mainstream environment creates an emotional bond and evokes a sense of pride.
“While online promotions are already preaching to the converted, as you are constantly targeting people in the same interest groups, outdoor has the potential to reach out to the second and third generation British Asians who are more integrated in the mainstream and would rather watch a Freida Pinto in Guerilla or a Priyanka Chopra in Quantico because even though it is a mainstream show it appeals to the South Asian audience.”
One of the recent successes was Channel 4, who had used roadside 96-sheets to promote its new shows to ABC1C2 16- to-34-year-olds. While 57% of the research sample had seen, the shows advertised, 75% had seen the posters.
According to him “targeted broadcast” is the way forward. “Space needs to be built for the second and third generation South Asians, and the only way to stand out is by advertising relevant content.”
Sky Atlantic is one such example. Though a mainstream brand, their continuous outdoor campaigns focus on the various shows and box sets, which make people want to follow up on what they see – whether it be online or on TV.
Echoing his views Manish Tiwari, Managing Director, Here and Now 365, one of the largest media buying agencies for specialist multicultural media said: “The out of home media landscape in UK unlike that in the sub-continent is sophisticated and controlled. Unfortunately, when it comes to South Asian brands from the sub-continent, especially some of the TV channels and movies the decision making is made in India by people who do not understand the full potential of OOH in the UK. The reach and impact of OOH in the UK is controlled, reliable and more importantly measurable. Also, formats like London Underground where the average dwelling time for a commuter is 30-40 minutes provides a great opportunity to engage audiences.”
As UK’s leading media agency Here and Now 365 specialises in mapping their audiences journey and geo-targeting by not only mapping their audience’s routes but also their high-density pockets, making sure the campaign reaches the right person at the right time and place. This coupled with “Route” – OOH media’s measuring tool, the impact and reach can be quantified, not only by the number of eyeballs but also by ethnicity.