Bollywood has arrived in Latin America via new Indian channel Zee Mundo, demonstrating that the two cultures actually have a lot in common.

The region remains uncharted territory for some international players, but Indian media group Zee Entertainment is betting on the growing in the Latin American market.

“Spanish is the second-most-spoken native language in the world,” says Zee Mundo Marketing and Digital Director Rolando Figueroa. There are also many similarities between Spanish speakers and the Eastern culture portrayed in [Zee Mundo’s] films: family values, relationships and shared struggles and successes. India’s colorful culture, including plenty of celebration and dance, also are very similar to Latin America’s.

Market research confirms that while both cultures are geographically distant, they have a lot in common when it comes to lifestyles.

“This is why we chose to bet on a channel with the unique offering of Bollywood productions that are produced in India, but intended for the global market,” he says.

Arriving in the Americas

Zee Mundo’s entrance to the Americas began in the United States through Dish Network in September 2016. The announcement about its arrival to Latin America came during this year’s NATPE in Miami, starting first with Ecuador. The network was later launched on satellite TV provider Sky, establishing itself in Mexico and in other parts of Central America, before heading to Peru and other countries.

Figueroa says the strategy is the same in both the United States and Latin America: “We target Spanish-speaking viewers, and it doesn’t make a difference whether or not they are based in the United States. The approach is to focus on films that have not been seen before and carefully dub them into Spanish.”

Casting the right actors to do the Spanish-language voiceovers has been a key factor, and to accomplish that, Zee Mundo worked with eight different dubbing studios.

“We have taken special care that the character’s voices to match their personalities and physical presence,” Figueroa says.

Zee Mundo’s arrival in the Americas positions it as an international channel.

“We want to convey that it’s not a cultural channel, but that it expresses its culture via universal storylines. It’s a channel that crosses borders and has concepts in common with Latin American culture,” he says.

A Programming Masala

Zee Mundo’s programming includes more than 250 films a year, as well as TV series, and is organized by content blocks based on five different genres. Figueroa applies the concept of masala—the combination of typical Indian spices—to the network’s lineup.

“Sometimes the films we offer are a combination of genres; an action movie can have a comedy component or a dramatic situation can turn into joy through a Bollywood dance,” he says. “India’s cinematic approach tends to be like this—a bit surprising.”

Zee Mundo has put a lot of effort into its content in order to best compete with Turkish series that have been monopolizing the hemisphere.

“We want to be at that level,” says David Cabán, programming director at Zee Mundo. “This channel is a unique window into another world, with high production content that has not yet been discovered in this country. In addition, there’s a certain sparkle that we want to communicate in our catalogue. With the promotional effort, we want to respect the high values of the films and series.”

The launch of the primetime channel included two movies, presented without commercial breaks, under the campaign “Films without Breaks.” The marketing team created campaigns to promote a different genre each evening, encouraging viewers to tune in seven days a week.

Mondays and Wednesdays are dedicated to the series Jodha Akbar: Royal Romance and Begusarai: No Man’s Land, both of which were released in June.

Tuesdays are titled “Pure Adrenaline,” and feature action-packed programming, while Thursdays are for romantic comedies with “Films to Fall in Love With.” Finally, Fridays feature police dramas, tagged “Crime Scene.”

Saturdays dive into a “Total Experience,” with behind-the-scenes content that includes depictions of how some scenes were filmed and edited, as well as interviews with celebrities and interesting tidbits about them, such as their preferred styles or what they are like as parents. Finally, Sundays bring everyone together for “Family Films.”

“The promotion strategy is intended to portray happiness and love for life as well as drive an emotional response,” says Cabán.

The content also has been shortened for a Latin American audience, reducing the typical three hours of Bollywood films to two hours.

Other programming highlights focus on high-quality production which seeks to rival any film studio in the world, and access to strong talent, which includes popular Indian celebrities such as Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Irrfan Khan.

The New World Under “Z”

Zee Entertainment worked with Argentinean design studio Steinbranding on naming and branding the network for Latin American audiences.

“It is a difficult brand name to pronounce,” says Guillermo Stein, president and CEO of Steinbranding. “In Spanish, there are only a few words that contain the syllable , but in digging into this challenge, we discovered that what might initially look like a mistake actually draws attention.”

The creative brief included the concept of using the word “Bollywood” to promote the idea of India.

“For us, the word ‘India’ encompasses a dose of mystery, charm, surprise,” says Stein. “Everything is amplified, exaggerated: aromas, spices, faces, dances. The smallest initiative can carry the weight of a waterfall, or a volcano.”

First, the studio set out to create a name that Hispanic audiences would understand. Steinbranding incorporated the word “mundo” Spanish for “world,” implying that India is a whole new world for Latin Americans to discover.

“With Zee Mundo, the other side of the world suddenly appears in front of us, and it’s as large or larger than our own,” says Stein.

Steinbranding then added the tagline¡Te encanta!,” which has a double meaning in Spanish: “You love it” and “You are charmed by it.”

Stein says the second-person singular was chosen “because it allowed us to address [the audience] directly, without subtleties or vagueness,”.

As for branding, Steinbranding retained the shape of the channel’s logo but emphasized both the “Z” and the curved line inside of it. This represents that “nothing has a neutral, square shape in India; it all has something exotic and sensual to it,” says Stein. “We wanted to evoke glamour, softness, impact, modernity, as well as show the high quality of the content.”

The design uses a two-color palette that’s warm and sensual on one end, and somewhat cold on the other.

Steinbranding puts a final touch on the Zee Mundo’s logo by adding an animation that conveys all that the channel has to offer. When the logo is in motion, it opens and closes at once, symbolizing all of the possibilities that India—and Zee Mundo—offers to its new Latin American viewers.

Version español: Zee Mundo trae el glamour de Bollywood a Latinoamérica


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