According to Philip Kotler, Brand Equity is the added value endowed on products and services. It may be reflected in the way consumers think, feel, and act with respect to the brand, as well as in the prices, market share, and profitability the brand commands for the firm. When Rajiv Chilaka conceptualized Chhota Bheem, he would have never thought of the commanding power this brand is going to have on his firm, GreenGold Animation. Ever since, this equity has been the driving force behind the animation boom in the India.
Background of Chhota Bheem
Inspired from Bheem a mythological character from Indian epic Mahabharata, the creators had initially thought of keeping the stories in the historic setting itself. They soon identified the disconnect the historic setting can create with their target audience, who are in the age group of around 6-12. The audience connect was established by the name itself, “Chhota Bheem”. The age of the protagonist Bheem was also cleverly set as 9 years, where the boy is neither old nor young for the audience to relate to. The camaraderie among the bunch of friends who are always with Bheem and the scenic village settings added to the charm of the hero.
Marketing Strategy and its Evolution
Being a trend-setter in the Indian Animation Industry, the creators of Chhota Bheem have maintained the edge by cleverly following the trends associated with the industry, be it in terms of technology or the taste of the audience and have very successfully maintained their position ahead of many other Indian Animated Characters like Shiva and many more with a viewership of around 362.7 million.
Initially, Bheem reached the audience through TV channels and story books. In which he not only saved Dholakpur from evil forces, but also POGO channel which was running into losses that time. The success of Bheem eventually made fortunes for the channel too.
With minimal cost of dubbing to various regional languages, they expanded throughout the country. This expansion was in sync with the establishment of regional animation channels. The prime slots of all these channels were constantly flooded with heroics of Bheem. The marketing efforts of all these channels helped Chhota Bheem to ride along the wave. This created a win-win situation for all the parties involved.
The repeat telecast potential of animation TV series has been an added advantage to the creators in terms of content creation cost. 21 hours of fresh programming every year was enough to give the channel about 48 hours of programming in a week.
The creators further ventured into occasional full movie episodes on TV which also proved to be huge success, achieving highest viewership ever achieved by an Indian animation series.
Venturing into other continents, the show became an instant hit in countries like Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and Mauritius.
As the creators identified that the brand was entering the maturity phase, they moved on to big screen to release their first movie: Chhota Bheem and the Curse of Damyaan.
Movie Poster of Chhota Bheem
The digital evolution during this era was successfully tapped by the creators, helping them milk the brand to its full potential. The alliance with Microsoft to release a windows app just before the release of the movie was a good move. The app was followed by various arcade games which ran on PC as well as android platforms.
Hence, the brand has moved along with the growth of a child and his preferences. The craze of gaming among children, combined with the fan following, was well tapped by the adoption of this strategy.
This online strategy is well complimented by their offline presence too. The scope of entertainment brand licensing has been well-exploited. The ecommerce website exclusively for selling the brand merchandise was also a huge hit. In fact, around 40 percent of company’s turnover is from merchandising.
The brand connect has always been improved by the offline presence. The little customers are delighted when they are welcomed by human size Bheem at malls and other public places. Customer activation happens through these interactions, helping the brand to maintain its connect with the audience.
Event-based marketing was also implemented successfully. In 2013, the birthday of the favourite superstar was celebrated in various cities with live telecast. This telecast broke the record by achieving the highest viewership ever achieved by a kid’s channel at that time.
Finding the right partners at the right time has always helped Bheem to reach to his full potential. For example, the recent alliance with Woodstock, an apparel merchandising firm, has helped to promote branded apparels of Bheem and other related characters. The other collaborations include players from diverse fields ranging from McDonald’s and Del Monte to Johnson & Johnson, Knorr Soupy Noodles to Usha Fans.
Since Bheem epitomizes various positive qualities, reputed brands always want to collaborate with him. A recent ad of Parle-G biscuit featuring Bheem and thereby showcasing the health benefits is one of such collaborations.
The success of Bheem has been a great motivation for creating locally produced animation series with the true Indian spirit. Even the creators of Bheem have produced a spinoff series from Bheem franchise, called Mighty Raju. Also, they have used the brand equity of Bheem to introduce other characters like Krishna.
The integrated marketing strategies has helped Bheem, just like the laddoo, his power source. Bheem has been an integral part of a majority of Indian children during the last decade, just like the Jungle Book or the Shaktiman series for the current youth. Bheem has apparently created huge business and profits to various stakeholders along with etching a long lasting memory in the minds of his little fans, thanks to the intelligent marketing strategies adopted from time to time.