It is not uncommon to see big brands take jabs at each other, brandishing advertising as their weapon. While most are merely an exercise in one-upmanship, others also incorporate a significant message that is somehow lost in the tussle.
A case in point is The Hindu’s recently released brand campaign with the tagline ‘Stay ahead of the times’. There are two areas of focus in The Hindu’s new communication – firstly, the content that people are consuming in the garb of news these days, and secondly, the paper’s rebuttal to The Times of India’s ‘Wake up to The Times of India’ campaign.
The Chennai-based publication, which has always been regarded as somber and hard-headed, has grabbed more eyeballs for adopting a tongue-in-cheek stance than for raising two very pertinent questions – whether information consumed these days qualifies as ‘news’ from a larger perspective and if publications are cautious as to what they put out as news.
Suresh Srinivasan, Vice President - Advertising, The Hindu, explained, “Rather than the rebuttal that the campaign is being viewed as, for us, this is more of an agenda-setting exercise through which we want to challenge the status quo. Our aim is to get the media to start talking amongst themselves and questioning the kind of content that is going out as ‘news’. We want to use this campaign as a platform to call to action the youth so that they can make more informed reading choices. The biggest measure of the success of this campaign will be if it generates conversations across different media channels on measures to address this alarming trend.”
The vox pop route
Three TVCs and six print ads have been created by Ogilvy, the brief being - to make people re-evaluate their current choice of media and switch to a smarter newspaper, implying, The Hindu. Simi Sabhaney, President, Ogilvy, Bangalore & Chennai, remarked, “We felt that the time had come to hold up a mirror to the disturbing new trend in Indian journalism. The Indian media industry has started serving up news equivalent to junk food. The vox pop route seemed the right way to expose the damage caused by this trend. We seem to be creating a country which is aware of gossip, but clueless about current affairs. With its strong heritage, The Hindu is one of the few institutions that can raise this issue credibly.”
The team did some bit of street casting for the film in locations around Mumbai to add to the authenticity. None of the answers that the participants gave in the films were prompted or aided as they were completely unaware of the script and its content.
Elaborating on the brainstorming for the commercials and hitting upon the vox pop idea, Joono Simon, Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy South, shared, “The idea breakthrough happened when our Associate Creative Director Mukund Olety, led by Senior Creative Director Arkadyuti Basu, came up with the idea of a vox pop format. Vox pop as a format is not so widely used in films, therefore, it brings in that element of freshness. This also gave the films a certain viral quality that helped in making it a huge success on several social media platforms.” The campaign has also garnered an almost viral response across social networking sites with more than 2.2 lakh views of the commercials within 48 hours of hitting screens, considering only the views for the videos posted by The Hindu on their official stream.
However, there have been conflicting views across the various social media channels. While many expressed that this was a ‘fitting reply’ to The Times of India’s provocation, others felt that the publication shouldn’t have taken the ‘dog-eat-dog’ route. Was it a conscious attempt to tackle competition head-on or merely meant as a footnote with a much larger message?
Substantive journalism Vs pulp fiction
“A simple yet disruptive idea is your best antidote to clutter. We found The Hindu as a brand that is so sharply defined and well-differentiated from the competition. From a positioning standpoint, sometimes saying what is not can be more interesting than saying what it is. It’s like while positioning a soft drink, it can either be a ‘colourless lemon flavoured drink’ or ‘The UnCola’. The latter obviously has more stickiness to it. Though the backdrop of the competition is evident, this is not single-mindedly directed at the competition. These sets of commercials truthfully resonates The Hindu’s voice. It is clearly substantive journalism versus what can be generally termed as ‘pulp fiction’,” Simon remarked.
The four-week campaign will be on TV, radio, cinema, print, outdoor and digital media. It will be supported by on-ground activities in malls, cafes and other locations. Mindshare has executed the media plan for traditional as well as the outdoor channels after recently winning the media mandate for The Hindu.
Ravi Rao, Leader, Mindshare-South Asia, said, “This is a great start to the business growth and success from our Chennai office headed by Kavitha Srinivasan and her team.” Sharing details of the media plan, Srinivasan said, “We are extremely delighted and proud that The Hindu has decided to partner with us on their media requirements. The campaign involves all media across ATL and BTL, with each medium having a definite and clear role to play to ensure the desired impact and engagement. We have done round-the-clock work to deliver the expectations in a short span of time. We feel very confident of the success of the campaign.”
The four southern states where The Hindu has its presence are the focus markets for this campaign.
Client: The Hindu
Executive Creative Director - Joono Simon
President (agency head) - Simi Sabhaney
Senior Creative Directors – Arkadyuti Basu, Suresh Babu
Creative Team – Mukund Olety, Shekar Hebbale, Binu Varghese, Mridula Joseph
Account Management – Vijaya Sriram, Karthik Hariharan, Sandeep Shah & Aruna Narsi
Films - Rajib
Production house – Thumbnail Pictures
Director (of the film) – Sudip Bandopadhyay
Media agency – Mindshare