Seagram launches gin via MTV India

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BOMBAY -- Canada's Seagram Co. launches Seagram's Extra Dry Gin, its eighth liquor brand in India since a 1994 market debut, through a sponsorship deal with music channel MTV India that also simultaneously heralds the country's first dance countdown show.

Seagram's Extra Dry Gin will be the program sponsor of the MTV Destination Dance series, an Indian and western music weekly dance countdown that premieres September 24.

"The tie-up with MTV to bring India's first dance countdown show is an apt association for Seagram's Extra Dry Gin as it reflects the brand values of a lively, versatile drink which can be enjoyed in a variety of ways," says Sanjeev Vohra, marketing director at New Delhi-based Seagram India, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Montreal, Quebec, beverages and entertainment group.

Direct advertising of liquor is banned in India, though the law cannot be enforced on channels uplinking from other countries. MTV India is beamed via satellite out of Singapore.

Hosted by local model Malaika Arora, the MTV Destination Dance countdown will showcase the top ten Indian and western tracks of the week, based on a compilation of record sales, feedback from nightclubs and MTV viewer requests.

Ms. Arora will also take viewers through trendy nightclubs, interviews with leading local and international dance talent, selections of popular deejays, and tips on the latest fashions. Viewers participating in the Destination Dance Smooth and Bumpy Contest stand a chance of winning gifts from Seagram and MTV.

"In our interaction with the youth, we have found dance music, as a genre, cuts across all languages and barriers," says Mishal Varma, programming director at MTV India in Bombay.

Seagram aims to cash in on the resurgent popularity of MTV India with India's upwardly mobile, young audience. The channel claims a June 1998 reach of 9.5 million cabled homes, up 60% over 6 million homes in the same period last year. New carriage deals with local cable operators, a judicious mix of international and local repertoire, and an aggressive advertiser drive have helped MTV India narrow the lead with rival Channel [V], half-owned by News Corp.

The gin brand is Seagram's first foray outside whiskies in India. The marketer's roster of brands available in the Indian market include three Scotch and four blended whisky brands. Whisky, a legacy of British colonial rule, is the most popular drink among the Indian middle and upper classes.

Copyright September 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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