HT Media, publisher of Hindustan Times (HT), created HT Friday Jam in 2014 as a business-to-business initiative to engage with the advertiser community in and around the city of Gurgaon, one of Indias largest corporate hubs.

The idea was to break through the clutter of the traditional business-to-business engagement platforms, such as conclaves and round tables, with a different approach: inviting corporate bands to perform live at Cyberhub, an entertainment junction in the center of Cyber City, one of the largest business districts in India. The complex is frequented by more than 300,000 employees.

Season one of HT Friday Jam included many corporate bands, created buzz, and gave a positive brand impression for HT among its advertisers. It was a success, and we decided to expand the scope of the event beyond corporations to engage with HT readers as well.

In season two, participation was opened to all bands, including those from colleges, schools, and the general public. The event evolved into a multi-week celebration and platform for corporations, as well as a celebration of music for people across age groups.

For 12 weeks, the event became a Friday evening entertainment destination for the community, and the event had some special moments of celebration, such as a World Music Day performance.

Season two also supported causes close to the readers’ hearts, such as the Nepal earthquake, and dedicated opening night to the victims of the earthquake. We invited popular bands from India and Nepal to pay tribute and raise donations for the relief fund. This also gave readers a way to express their support.

The evening included performances by Parikrama, Bipul Chettri & Adrian (popular Nepalese singers flown in from Nepal), Mrigya, Advaita and other popular Delhi bands.

By evolving a simple initiative from an engagement platform for a niche audience into a larger reader-engagement initiative, HT Friday Jam became a unique way to reach both the business community and the reader community at the same time.

Recently, HT Friday Jam started season three on a very successful note with India’s most popular band, Euphoria, performing on opening night.

The successful event, now in its third year, has engaged advertisers and readers, generated revenue for HT Media, and measurably increased engagement and brand recognition among young readers.
The successful event, now in its third year, has engaged advertisers and readers, generated revenue for HT Media, and measurably increased engagement and brand recognition among young readers.

The event also has received attention from advertisers who came on board as sponsors, which has generated revenue for the company.

The top objectives were:

  1. Drive deeper engagement with the business-to-business advertiser community.

  2. Drive youthful imagery of our HT brand and connecting with the younger readers through music.

  3. Engage with the residents of Delhi and Gurgaon with a special focus on the South Delhi and New Gurgaon (SEC A+) audience valued by advertisers.

  4. Engage advertisers based out of adjacent Cyber City and create affinity for the HT brand among them.

The event was scheduled on Friday evenings, the day of the highest foot traffic from corporate employees, families, and youth. Bands registered themselves by sending their demo sound/video links to fridayjam@hindustantimes.com. They were screened and shortlisted basis their demo and profile. Every Friday, three or four shortlisted bands performed out of over 200 band entries received.

In conjunction with the event, we also launched an edgy 360-degree campaign with print ads inviting participants. We used on-ground branding and activation in Cyber City offices, e-mails through Shine.com and E4M, Afaqs (trade media portals), audio ads on Delhi’s no. 1 radio station (Fever FM), digital promotion Facebook posts, and pre-event YouTube videos.

This platform was highly successful and will continue to be an annual event. It led to high recall of the initiative in the business community, since the venue chosen is a hub for corporations, which also grabbed the attention of major media agencies and nearby clients.

We also enjoyed a high level of engagement with the advertiser community with band entries from major advertisers like Philips, Amex, Maruti Suzuki, Yum Brands, Max Bupa insurance, RBS, Flipkart, etc.

We had a packed house at the shows every week and high engagement with both business and community audiences, with an estimated 360,000 people reached.

The company also generated revenue through sponsors who came on board to associate with the event, as well as indirectly by driving engagement and affinity amongst advertisers for HT.

The brand score of HT among readers in New Gurgaon jumped by 13 points after the campaign, from a negative score in the previous round of brand tracking to a positive lead, in a mature market where typically even 3-4 point movement is difficult to achieve.