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Talent hunt, the two-wheeler way

Arti Sharma, Abhilasha Ojha & Freny Patel | July 17, 2004

Indian television companies have fallen in love with talent hunts as a sure-fire way to attract audiences and advertisers. But one advertiser, which has taken to talent shows more than any other is two-wheeler giant Hero Honda.

Hero Honda has tied up with not one but three talent hunts. It is the title sponsor for Zee's Sa Re Ga Ma Pa hosted by singer Shaan. Then, it's the presenting sponsor for Zee's India's Best -- Cine Stars Ki Khoj that is currently on air.

Now, as part of its continuing efforts to reach the younger generation it has tied up with Pepsi for the Pepsi Hero Honda Campus Rock Idols.

"Our purpose is to involve our target customers as much as possible," says Pradeep Saxena, head of marketing, Hero Honda. Youngsters love these activities and it is an important brand-building opportunity for us."

The competition claims to be the biggest ever college rock competition and will go to 11 cities across the country. The finals will be held in Mumbai in the first week of September.

The other key sponsors are Nokia and Idea while MTV will be the media partner airing the entry promos, filming and producing certain agreed episodes.

The entire series has been conceptualised and managed by event management outfit DNA Networks (the people who managed the recently held Enrique Iglesias and Bryan Adams concerts).

The prize? Cash, multimedia equipment and the chance to perform with the likes of Bryan Adams, Rolling Stones, Dire Straits, Duran Duran and Sting for the winners. That should be enough to quicken the heartbeat of most budding rock stars.

Promotions: Sony Style

What's the easiest way to give your TV shows an extra boost? Sony Television is bringing in a constant stream of celebrities to make cameo appearances on shows like Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi and the newer Ye Meri Life Hai, which is two months old but building up TRP ratings rapidly.

The very first episode of Ye Meri Life Hai had film director Karan Johar making a special appearance in the serial. A few episodes down the line and Sony's hit programme Boogie Woogie too became a part of two episodes of the serial.

For those of you who aren't glued in to the Indian small screen, Boogie Woogie is a talent hunt show dedicated to dance. It is produced by actor Jaaved Jaafri and his brother Naaved and has been one of the longest-running shows on Sony.

According to the script in Ye Meri Life Hai, the Boogie Woogie team come to St Martins College for a competition with a special guest Sanobir Kabir (a current favourite in the crop of Indian music videos). Just recently Kunal Kohli, director of the hit film Hum Tum made an appearance in the serial on the pretext of judging a film project.

Meanwhile marketing continues to go on in Jassi what with music video starlets like Negar Khan, singers like Sunidhi Chauhan and actor Saif Ali Khan who've already made brief appearances in the serial.

Also, in line is actor Vivek Oberoi who'll be doing his retro vanilla Coke act and promoting the product in the serial. Stay glued for more.

Ensuring returns

It's one of the smallest players in the life insurance market in India today. But Bangalore-based MetLife India Insurance is now looking at changing that.

It has just launched a new life insurance product called Met Ultimate, which is a combination of a money back and a whole life cover. The other player, which offers a similar product is the Life Insurance Corporation.

What is unique about the policy? The biggest advantage, says a company spokesperson, is that it offers guaranteed minimum interest rate of 3.5 per cent per annum apart from bonus interest that is linked to the market interest rate and investment performance.

It acts like a savings account to which premiums are deposited, various charges deducted and interest credited to the accumulated account. The policy provides a life cover upto the age of 100. And after three years you can avail of a premium holiday (increase, decrease, stop or skip your premiums) providing the account has enough funds to bear the charges.

The other advantage that the policy offers is of tax-free cash withdrawals from the account anytime after the first two years. While the first two partial withdrawals per year are free of charge, subsequently you will be charged Rs 250 or two per cent of the withdrawal amount, whichever is lower.

There are three death benefit options to choose from. You can also increase or decrease the sum assured. And if you have surplus investibles than you can use the dump-in option, which allows you put in surplus into the account over and above the premium you normally pay. It has the usual Section 88 tax benefits.

The question is whether this will be enough to make Metlife a significant private insurance player in this highly competitive market today. Though it launched a major advertising campaign this year, Metlife reaches only 12 cities in India today.

However, since the government has proposed hiking the foreign direct investment limit from 26 to 49 per cent, Venkatesh Mysore, managing director of Metlife India says: "We will be moving faster as we propose to set up more outlets in class B&C towns and in more parts of rural India. With all this in store, MetLife will revisit its targets."

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