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AXN is a general entertainment network that serves all of Asia. The channel featured a lot of adventure and excitement shows such as CSI, NCIS, Amazing Race, and Wipeout. But despite the predominantly action-oriented programming, they lacked a focused brand position. To draw viewers, they had relied heavily on plot-based promos like the one below. As a result they failed to build a unique brand identity or forge a meaningful relationship with their audience.
We began by identifying seven viable brand positions: action, adventure, challenge, courage, determination, smarts, and tenacity. We then researched the 602 Communications library of over 50,000 commercials to find three or four strong examples of each position, each hitting upon a different “emotional driver.” We then showed these ads to focus groups to see which examples would resonate with the core customers. Below are just a few examples of the commercials we tested. This example, a very American experience of rule-breaking adventure, did not test well. They called used terms like “crazy, illogical, risky, jackass, reckless, psycho.”
After studying the focus group results from all 27 of the commercials we tested, we could confidently make the following conclusion: The audience wanted action, excitement and adventure, but all of it should be firmly grounded in a more realistic premise—no wild fantasy, no reckless behavior, not too violent, and no rule breaking. We found that “action with a purpose” was what resonates. “Determined” is how this group wants to feel about itself. So we set about building an entire brand image on this emotion. Here are examples of how the “determination” brand message is translated and integrated into a variety of AXN promos:
Now instead of a mere explanation of the game rules, Amazing Race is promoted with an inspiring message of determination, more visceral and less mental in its appeal.
A year after integrating the determination theme into all promotional and branding messaging, AXN saw an overall increase of XX% in ratings and XX% in retention. Their ratings among their core customers (Males 18 to 55) saw a dramatic increase of XX%. In effect, AXN now owns “determination” among a larger and more loyal audience that responds to, identifies with, and loves it.
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