Decoding Satyamev Jayate: The Aamir Khan School of PR

A poster for Satyamev Jayate

“India’s female foeticide situation is so bad that our Oprah Winfrey is a guy”

This succinctly captured one of the dominant sentiments on Twitter around the first ‘Satyamev Jayete’ episode: witty cynicism. The tweet referred to Aamir Khan’s presence as an anchor on the show, centered on popular Indian social issues. But reviews aside, Satyamev’s pre-launch marketing is a successful exercise in PR. In the typical Aamir Khan School of PR, he travelled and spoke, yet kept the exact contents of the show in suspense.

When we did find out the show’s aim, Khan drove the show’s message of India’s old scars (beginning with gender bias and female foeticide) by going retro. The show’s theme song is scheduled to be screened right after the national anthem in 300 movie theaters across the country, and the Star Plus original will also be simul-cast on Doordarshan. And that too, on a time-slot associated with Mahabharata and Ramayana, staples of reverent Sunday morning family viewing. And the reverent association could be more than a coincidence; to the media, Khan has stated:

“…We have watched ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabarata’ and it used to come on Sunday morning. The shows created a different atmosphere….”

And while Doordarshan may not be as commercially profitable as a spot on the Star parivaar, it does capture a massive market of the rural viewership, giving key sponsors Airtel and Aquaguard their money’s worth.

For the urban, English reading market is Hindustan Times’s Page 1 praise of the show. The actor is also scheduled to begin writing a weekly column for the news daily. While a column on HT City is popularly used by celebrities to build a personalized, emotional connect with fans, a column in Hindustan Times can establish the intellectual validity that a Bollywood-star’s TV show might require.

Written by Kunal Anand for Image Management

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