All the news fit to print; all the booze fit to air?

NDTV Good Times” is a lifestyle television channel that is the result of a collaboration between India’s leading English language television network NDTV, and India’s leading liquor manufacturer, United Breweries (UB).

On the face of it, “NDTV Good Times” may seem like a good idea for M/s Mallya & Roy.

For UB, the channel’s name gives the “King of Good Times” punchline of its Kingfisher beer constant, not-so-subtle on-air play given the ban on surrogate advertising. And, for another, UB gets the kind of content which it can then slap on the screens of the planes of its Kingfisher Airlines.

For NDTV, too, it is a win-win. It has another channel to offer viewers in its bouquet; it gets a stock-market listed media company some extra dough, an extra revenue stream; and it gives NDTV’s image of a media outsourcing company that it has craved and cultivated vide a deal with GenPact.

But can the relationship work the other way round, too?

Obviously, a liquor company can use the packaging of its products to advertise its own channel. But does it work on tipplers? Does it create greater awareness of the channel or the partnership? Do Kingfisher-drinkers remember to switch on the channel after the hypnogogic haze has vanished? Do the TRPs suggest that?

More importantly, can a serious media house like NDTV allow its brand image to be exploited on liquor boxes? Does it need to? Admittedly, the beer boxes are only pushing “NDTV Good Times” but can such a symbiotic relationship work without affecting the credibility of the main news and business channels?

Maybe, there is nothing puritanical about the Mammon-worshipping modern market place. Signage is important and getting the message any which way is all that counts to put some black ink on the bottomline. That may be OK for a liquor house, but for a media house in the news business?

Put another way, would New York Times allow its logo on Budweiser boxes even if Bud paid billions?

Cross-posted on sans serif