Case Study: How BIG FM’s new version of Mahalaya tradition reached 2mn+ listeners

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BIG Mahalaya

Big FM, in collaboration with Dentsu Webchutney, introduced the audience to a new version of ‘Mahisasura Mardini’ narrated in the voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra in alignment to the brand’s ‘Dhun Badal Ke Toh Dekho’ philosophy.

The case study explores how the radio station leveraged its own philosophy of  ‘Dhun Badal Ke Toh Dekho’ to amplify the new version of the traditional program on social media and radio.

Brand Introduction

Big FM’s new positioning of ‘Dhun Badal Ke Toh Dekho’ attempts to play a meaningful, relevant and compelling role in the lives of the consumers. It is just not about entertainment but a brand with a purpose. The realigned programming reflects the new positioning and tells the audience that Big FM is a platform where one can tune in to know both sides of a certain story while sharing their opinions too.

Apart from that, the brand also showcases its range of on-air content and promote their RJs.

Summary

For 87 years, Bengalis all over India have been tuning into Mahisasur Mardini – a radio program in the voice of the legend, Birendra Krishna Bhadra. And with this, for 87 years, Bengalis have been waking up to Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s Mahalaya – a chant that summons the beginning of Durga Puja and is sung in praise of the Goddess.

The people of Kolkata and all the Bengalis across India have only been exposed to the version sung by him. Attempting to change this norm and introducing the audience to something different without any comparison to the original classic narration was the most important objective.

What’s Mahisasur Mardini, the radio program? What did we change?

Mahisasuramardini is a widely popular early Bengali radio program that has been broadcast since 1931 on All India Radio (AIR) in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is a one and half-hour audio montage of Chandipath (chanting from Chandi) recitation from the scriptural verses of Sri Sri Chandi or Durga Saptashati, Bengali devotional songs, classical music and a dash of acoustic melodrama.

This program is aired every year at 4 AM on Mahalaya and has become synonymous with Mahalaya which is celebrated to usher the Debipaksha lunar fortnight and the Durga Puja. To this day, most of Bengal wakes up in the chilly pre-dawn hours, 4 AM to be precise, on the Mahalaya day to tune into the “Mahisasura Mardini” broadcast. Birendra Krishna Bhadra is the voice behind the “Mahisasura Mardini.”

Problem Statement/Objective 

To create a new tradition, that during this Durga Puja people, for the first time in decades, experience and listen to a different ‘Dhun’ of the Mahalaya. A narration that has women in the forefront and a tune that is different from the original one.

The objective was to give the people a chance to a new narration of the traditional version.

Brief 

To craft a campaign for Durga Puja, with the ‘Dhun Badal Ke Toh Dekho’ angle.

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Creative Idea

The bigger idea of this campaign was not to break the 87-year-old tradition but to create a new one – Mahalaya Ki Nayi Dhun. This aligns with the brand tagline Dhun Badal Ke Toh Dekho. The campaign was to create a different version of the Mahalaya and to get women into the forefront who have been earlier part of the program on a very minimal level.

Directed and recited by Swagatalakshmi Dasgupta, many influential artists such as Srabani Sen, Rupankar Bagchi, Manomay Bhattacharya, Rishi-Tirtha and Sidhu Ray came on board to contribute their voice for the BIG Mahalaya.

This new Mahalaya was aired on Big FM at 4 AM on September 28.

 

Challenges

  • Since the old tradition of Mahalaya is very close to Bengalis, crafting the right communication in a manner that doesn’t offend anyone’s religious/cultural beliefs
  • To recreate the Mahalaya in a woman’s voice, instead of the original one where the narration was done by Birendra Krishna Bhadra.

Execution

On-radio

Since this was a radio-first idea, there was a lot of promotion done around this on the radio. The pre-launch to the campaign started a week before Mahalaya, which falls on 28th September, where we heard a lot of celebrities, popular Bengalis talk about how they are excited about this change and can’t wait to tune in to Big FM, at 4 AM this year to listen to the Big Mahalaya. We got BIG FM RJs in Kolkata to talk about it a week in advance of the big reveal.

Social Media

Similarly, on digital the promotions for Mahalaya started 5 days prior to the launch. The platforms deployed for this campaign were Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Since we got a lot of interest from the users to tune into the new Mahalaya, we uploaded the 45 min Big Mahalaya audio on social media at 4 AM, just when it went on-air on the radio.

Results

Quantitative-

  • On-air reach – 24,00,000 + listeners from 3 metro cities. This result is huge considering the fact that as a practice and tradition, Bengalis all over India would tune into All India Radio on Mahalaya. Two and a half million people chose to try a different tune and experience it.
  • Digital reach – Reached over 500,000 people in a matter of 12 hours of the on-air narration of the BIG Mahalaya. The brand’s aim via digital medium and platforms was to get maximum people tuned in on the 28th of September.
  • The right number of teasers and push creatives helped reach the pre-decided numbers and helped make the campaign a success.

Qualitative-

  • Through the pre-launch and launch phase of the campaign, the brand garnered a lot of support and excitement towards the New Mahalaya, wherein the users requested us to share the 45 min new Mahalaya on social as well. Some of the responses were heartfelt, which gave the brand a positive go-ahead from the users. The best result was the fact that 24 lakh+ people, tuned into the Big FM to hear the new Mahalaya.

Quotes

Sunil Kumaran, Country Head – Product, Marketing & THWINK BIG, BIG FM said, “Over the years, women have refrained from being a part of many traditions due to pre-set mandates. But with changing times, one can see how our thoughts are progressing and becoming more and more inclusive. Backed by our aim to create thought changing content which breaks stereotypes, BIG Mahalaya is our attempt to pack the message of inclusiveness and create a modern-day version of this age-old tradition. The original piece is iconic and cannot be replaced, but our 40 min rendition is an attempt at progressing towards a more inclusive and equal approach. We are extremely proud of this initiative which will create an impact in society.”

Aalap Desai, Executive Creative Director, Dentsu Webchutney said, “For 87 years, Bengalis all over the world have been following the iconic Mahalaya program created by the Birendra Krishna Bhadra, which narrates the story and praises the goddess Durga. This year, keeping in line with BIG FM’s positioning, we thought of creating a modern-day rendition of this iconic piece but with a powerful message. #BIGMahalaya’s concept revolves around adapting progressive thoughts and inclusion, resulting in a new outlook of equal opportunities. The idea was simple and needed a lot of people to come together to make it happen and today we are proud of what we have achieved.”

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