Articles & Opinions · Bucharest, August 7, 2003

Rebranding Romanian Television

Interview with Aneta Bogdan about the rebranding process

Aneta Bogdan, managing partner of Brandient, which was picked to be Romanian Television’s long term consultant, tells Business Review about the decisions taken in the wake of the brand’s audit. Public television has been undergoing a rebranding process since February, involving an internal and external corporate makeover which has helped to flesh out TVR’s future strategy. The new strategy is adapted to corporate culture as well as the market positioning of the four channels under the umbrella of the TVR brand.

Q: What does a rebranding process in television consist of?
A: A complete rebranding process lasts about nine or 12 months and the consultant often stays close to the client for one or two years after its closure. Generally, rebranding has two stages, the strategic and the implementation stages. First of all, rebranding looks to the strategic level. It must not be understood as a instrument of communication but as a management one, used in order to reach certain objectives. That is why building a brand is a strategy towards achieving other objectives, like profit for example. In other cases rebranding may be seen as a philosophy, a core around which the company is revolving, developing. The implementation part of a rebranding process intersects with the marketing and communication sectors. The brand must be known not only by consumers but also by the other stakeholders, such as competitors, providers, business partners and so on.

Q: What happened in the case of Romanian Television?
A: It was obvious that Romanian Television needed rebranding as, compared to commercial television stations, it has never been clear in promoting a certain set of values or in the messages it has transmitted. And besides, the image of a public television station is very close to the image of the country it represents, as it is a public service. Romanian Television is a public service, our money is going into it and we want it to represent ourselves. Generally speaking, the rebranding of a public television station is part of that particular country’s rebranding. A high standard television station also helps its country’s image. The first step we took with TVR was a brand audit, proposing an organizational-level one. We interviewed the decision makers in charge of programing and corporate image and we also spoke with those who are implementing the policies and who don’t have decision-making power. We held talks with a wide range of employees about what their values are.

Q: What is the internal image of TVR?
A: What we found out was really interesting and surprising. The employees believe in their mission of making television as most of them are not young and have been doing this for many years. They really desire change within TVR and they also hope that they will no longer have a negative image. All of them constantly say that they want to have a positive image as they really know television. Despite the fact that each president, appointed by Parliament, has come with his own vision and working style, they had to act like perfect machines in order to avoid the effects of change. The employees at TVR also wanted to point out that they are a reference point for professionalism in television. All of them are aware of the responsibility of public television, which is to take care of the areas that have no audience. This doesn’t mean it has to give up being competitive and well-run.

Q: How were the other stages of the audit process completed?
A: We carried out the external audit with 11 opinion leaders (print editors, competitors, sociologists, public relations officials) to find out the perception of TVR. With this data, Brandient drafted the brand’s strategy to obtain a clearer position for the television. Moreover, we completed the programing strategy which is already being implemented. TVR organised a public tender for the communication component: TV packaging, corporate identity and advertising campaigns. We also helped them with organizing the tender.

Q: Why did this public pitch fail in finding companies to work with?
A: The stumbling block was the TV packaging requirements. This is the most visible part of a television brand as it is the reference we follow. It includes the logo and all the visual components. A major problem is that on the Romanian market, TV packaging is at a low level. This requires a specialization which was also difficult to be build up abroad. So we invited agencies to take part in this tender; we suggested that they contact the agencies specialising in TV packaging on their network. English & Pocket of Mc Cann Ericson was interested but it asked for more money than TVR could afford. Other foreign agencies were also interested in doing just parts of the packaging for less money. However they were not interested in taking part in a public bid as they were supposed to work with a local notary for a long time and submit all the documents. So, bureaucracy also hindered the public tender. Mc Cann Ericson was the closest to meeting the requirements for the advertising campaign as they included the novelty elements. Mc Cann Ericson and TVR will probably develop some of the promotional campaigns for the new programing. TVR also selected a PR company and it is clear they will find a company for the corporate identity or an advertising agency for the campaign. For TV packaging it has to wait and get more money in order to go abroad and find a good company.

Q: What is TVR’s new positioning?
A: First of all, the channels are renamed TVR1, TVR2, TVR Cultural and TVR International and each of them will be repositioned with their specific messages aimed at a certain target audience. TVR1 is the most watched channel and it focuses on contemporary issues, life experiences, technology and everything happening in the world, bringing viewers a fresher perspective. Unlike TVR1, TVR2 focuses on individual issues, with programs about pets, gardening, family movies and so on. Obviously, TVR Cultural will be a niche channel addressing intellectuals, with shows about the arts, culture and business. It wants to become a role model for its viewers. TVR International will select and air the best of the other channels in order to offer a positive image abroad of a nation that is still searching for its identity.

Interview by Malina Iordan, Business Review, issue 30, vol. 6.

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