CMO SpeakDialogue

The role of a marketer has evolved as a ‘Chief Integration Officer’

Rajiv Bakshi is the Vice President of Marketing for the South Asia region, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific. He has over 15 years of experience in marketing and communications. 

Rajiv Bakshi is the Vice President of Marketing for the South Asia region, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific. He has over 15 years of experience in marketing and communications. 

At Discovery, he is responsible for the brand management of the entire portfolio of eleven brands – Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery Kids, Investigation Discovery, Discovery Science, Discovery Turbo, Discovery Tamil, Discovery HD World, Animal Planet HD World, and TLC HD World.

He is charged with developing the networks’ consumer marketing strategy, brand management, product planning, launches, media planning, research, on air presentation, digital and social engagement, brand/product campaigns and trade marketing. In addition, he leads the corporate communications, public affairs and business operations for the region. 

Rajiv joined Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific in 2004 and launched India’s first lifestyle channel TLC (formerly Discovery Travel & Living). During his tenure, Discovery Channel gained undisputed brand leadership and became India’s No. 1 non-fiction channel. He grew Animal Planet’s viewership by more than 100% to make it the third largest channel in the factual genre.

During his decade long tenure at Discovery, Rajiv has launched multiple new channels including India’s first science channel – Discovery Science; premium male channel –  Discovery Turbo; India’s first high definition channel – Discovery HD World; Discovery Tamil and the game changing channel in the kids’ genre – Discovery Kids. He has partnered the company’s localisation drive.  He has also contributed to expand network portfolio to eleven unique content channels in the region including the newly launched ID- Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet HD World and TLC HD World. 

He was conferred ’’50 most outstanding CMOs” by World Brand Congress in 2012 and “Marketing Person of the Year” at IPE Corporate Excellence Awards in 2012. 

He holds an MBA from Birla and a Degree in Commerce from Delhi University.

In this exclusive interview with Ratnika Swami for India Digital Review, Rajiv talks about Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific’s strategies to engage with the youth, the increasing consumption of content on different devices and the challenges faced in tapping into the Digital medium. Excerpts:

Q. With more than a decade of experience in marketing and communication under your belt, how would you say the role of a marketing officer has evolved in this industry?

In an extremely dynamic and rapidly changing media landscape, the role of a marketer has evolved as a ‘Chief Integration Officer’.  Marketers in the industry must have a larger view of the overall business including sales, programming, content, distribution etc., so that the effectiveness of marketing campaigns can be maximised.

Q.  Could you please share a brief about the current strategy and direction that Discovery is taking in digital in India?

With its unique content, news updates, and effective media strategy as the pillars of communication, Discovery Networks is engaging with its audience to build relationships. The network is creating dedicated audience groups to build one-on-one relationships, test programmes, gauge response, celebrate milestones, drive tune-ins and expand its fan-base.  The aim is to organically weave a community which would further create a word of mouth.

Q. In the past few years, India has witnessed tremendous growth in the digital and mobile space. People from all age groups are opting to switch off their TV in favor of online video alternatives and mobile is expected to account for 50% of the total video consumption by the end of 2015. What do you think about this development and how is this affecting your business?  

Television media is a superfast moving consumer service (FMCS).  It is the golden age of television with respect to content, innovative formats and consumption both on-air and off-line.

In a cluttered television environment, it is essential to gain competitive advantage by offering distinct value to your audience.  This approach has encouraged us to further expand our portfolio in various genres like factual, lifestyle, kids, investigation, wildlife and men’s entertainment.  In last five years we have launched eight specialized channels to suit tastes of Indian viewers. 

While the consumption of content on different devices has been increasing, it cannot replace the experience of a television screen.  I believe, with new developments in technology and content formats, television will remain mainstay.

Q. What are the marketing initiatives that you are undertaking online to stay ahead of the competition? And how is your messaging changing for the digital era?

The consumers’ tastes and preferences are fast changing and it is imperative for a marketer to enhance the interest of its audience.  The key for any product or service remains ‘differentiation’.  Our brands offer distinct offering to the audiences.

In today’s tech-era, digital has become a platform to build engagement with the consumers. Discovery has been using multiple platforms namely social, digital and mobile to build and strengthen its engagement with its audience.  We use the medium to hold direct conversations, drive engagement, get insight and feedback, how to engage and enrich viewers’ lives.

Q. From a branding perspective, how important is social media?

In an era that integrates digital with the real world, brands need to offer platforms for consumers to communicate with the brand on a one-to-one level.  

Q. Could you please share in brief a couple of digital marketing campaigns Discovery has done recently or plans to do next and what makes them different or noteworthy?

Some of the campaigns that I enjoyed conceptualising and executing have been ‘Talk to Discovery’ and ‘Discover Your City’ for Discovery Channel, which have worked to build engagement with the audiences.  Another campaign that’s closest to my heart is Animal Planet’s Yeh Mera India celebratory anthem. 

Q. As a CMO, what are the main challenges you face, especially in being able to reach out and engage with the millennials?

With a diverse portfolio of eleven brands, I enjoy connecting with millennials through differentiated product offerings.  Youth forms a substantial viewer base and is an important target segment for us.  I try to use innovative product packaging to suit tastes and preferences of our viewers. 

Q. What advice would you like to share with your peers in the industry?

Tomorrow is another day.  Old tricks will not work.  Innovate – Innovate – Innovate!

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