Dolby moves beyond cinema into mobiles

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Dolby Digital wants to make its brand offering more relevant and visible to the end consumer. The company is looking at the B2C segment more assertively and extending its services to mobiles, TVs and laptops, thereby directly influencing the everyday life of its consumer. As a matter of fact, it has recently joined hands with Nokia to transform latter’s smartphones into an HD mobile entertainment device.

Moving beyond 70mm
For almost two decades of its presence in the Indian market, Dolby’s positioning had been the same – it was synonymous with the surround sound cinematic experience of Indian movie screens. This obviously helped the brand garner some great brand recall, especially with Dolby trailers playing at the beginning of a movie. But that was all. The consumer could not expect more from the brand other than great acoustic experience inside theatres. Being an embedded technology, it was difficult for consumers to understand the full potential and relevance of the brand, despite high brand awareness. As Pankaj Kedia, Country Manager, Dolby Laboratories India, shares, “Though our brand recall is as high as 80 per cent among consumers, they may not know what we actually do with our technology. There are a lot of misconceptions about the role of Dolby in a consumer’s life.” Hence, the company decided to move beyond cinemas to other technology driven sectors.

Pankaj Kedia

Pankaj Kedia, Country Manager, Dolby India

Thus in the last three to four years, since it opened office in 2009 in the country, Dolby’s focus started shifting to broadcasting and hand held devices like mobiles, tablets and PCs. “With digitisation happening rapidly and fast adoption of HD, we found it the right time to enter these two sectors as well,” says Ashim Mathur, Head Marketing, Dolby India. The company’s plan for the broadcasting sector has received stimulus from the mandatory 100 per cent digitisation to take place in the four metros by June, 2012. Consequently, the last 18-24 months saw the company partnering with DTH players like Airtel, Sun Direct and Tata Sky that offer HD content. The company will soon announce a fourth DTH player on its list.

Sound support
Luckily for the company there are limited number of players in the market like DTS and SRS. Adding further, Kedia says, “We are present across multiple market systems and provide all round support to our partners ranging from content creation, delivery operations to playback at homes. There is no other player that has that kind of approach and footprint. We are present in the length and breadth of the country through cinemas, mobile devices and set top boxes.”

Ashim Mathur

Ashim Mathur, Head, Marketing, Dolby India

Dolby is trying to become an important part of consumer’s TV watching experience. This has been possible because of its partnership with Star TV, with which it co-creates content in 5.1 surround sound. In turn, the channel’s HD driven content has encouraged people to replace their old TV sets with HD panels. Plus, explosion of devices on the mobility front like handsets, smartphones, PCs, tablets in the Indian market, presents an opportunity for the brand’s technology to be integrated in these devices. The TG Dolby is looking includes consumers on the go and youth in the age bracket of 17 to 30 years, who can visualise the potential of Dolby sound system in the new devices.

Viral Oza

Viral Oza, Marketing Director, Nokia India

Thus, the company is tying up with brands like HP, Lenovo, Nokia and LG to enhance consumer experience. “Though mobiles are a dominant device in India, many do not associate them with high quality sound and picture, but we want to change that perception and recreate the cinematic appeal on smaller screens,” adds Kedia. True to its intention, the yet to be launched Nokia Pureview 808 smartphone will come enabled with Dolby Surround Sound. Commenting on Nokia’s partnership with Dolby, Viral Oza, Marketing Director, Nokia India, says-” Nokia and Dolby have a close and long standing relationship starting with the Nokia N8 with Dolby Digital Plus surround sound. Today, we have a range of smartphones which are Dolby enabled and with the recently announced Nokia PureView 808, we set a new benchmark in the entertainment industry with a 41 MP sensor and Dolby Digital Plus technology.”

Looking for visibility
However, foray into other sectors has not been as smooth as expected; Dolby faced major challenges in staying relevant to the end consumer. Since the brand is not a tangible product, the challenge was to create visibility for the brand. So Dolby decided to educate consumers through various activations and demonstrations at the retail end. For instance, the acoustic brand trains staff at Nokia retail outlets to demonstrate the Dolby experience on the handsets. All the marketing initiatives are centred on experiences. The latest being FICCI Frames where Dolby demonstrated how 5.1 surround sound can be figured to TV sets and DTH.

To reach out to the living rooms of its consumers, it recently organised a workshop at NDTV Gadget Guru, to educate people on how to set up home theatre. “For us, retail will be an important ingredient in educating our consumers through live demonstrations, driving the social and digital media space, to create the right word of mouth. So instead of focusing on technical details of the device, we will try to build an entertainment experience quotient around the product,” divulges Kedia. Dolby is yet to start consumer engagement programs in the next few months.

Can it make the right noise?
But isn’t that going to slow down efforts for the brand? Kedia feels that it is a tougher and gradual process to demonstrate Dolby’s technology but nevertheless important to ultimately reach the end consumer. The brand should have started its branding exercise on these platforms as aggressively as it did for cinema. On the advertising front, much like Intel, Dolby will integrate its name in the communication campaigns of its partners across cinema, DTH and devices. But will it be able to draw as much attention as Intel is a matter of speculation.

Nonetheless the company has maintained its interest in cinema and has signed a deal with UFO Moviez, looking at 3,000 screens in the next three years. Currently, out of approximately 11,000 screens in India, Dolby is already present in 50 per cent cinema screens.

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