Following the conclave in Delhi, exchange4media.com held its Bangalore conclave at Leela Palace on April 30, 2004. The Chief Guest, Shombit Sen Gupta, Founder, Emotional Surplus, inaugurated the event by lighting a lamp. The topic of the first session was ‘Regional Media – Is it finally coming of age?’, and the panelists were I Venkat, Director Marketing, Eenadu and ETV Telugu, Ramanand Bhat, Director, Vijayanand Printers (Vijay Karnataka), R Sridhar, CEO, Brand-comm and Sandip Tarkas, CEO, Optimum Media Directions (OMD). Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consultants, was the moderator for the session.
Bijoor set the tone for the discussion by stating how in the years gone by content had occupied the pride of place in relation to advertising and how the tide had changed since. “Everything in life is cyclic,” he said.
In a similar vein, Bijoor said the focus of media had taken a full circle moving from local issues to national and then to international and now back to local content. He likened the current regional media to the proverbial David and the national media to Goliath.
Taking the discussion forward, Bhat emphatically stated that the biggest market in India was indeed the rural market and that the regional media was the best platform for companies to reach out to this segment. He spoke of how local content finds favour with the regional readers and viewers and observed that the visual media was taking away a huge chunk of advertising.
Tarkas, on his part, said that the share of the regional media was growing “because people have learnt to accept the differences in themselves just as the Blacks in the US have created an identity of their own as African Americans. The difference in attitude has led to a difference in advertising communication.”
Tarkas cited the rapid growth of regional brands in the FMCG sector as one of the reasons that made marketers to look at regional media keenly to invest their ad monies. He felt that there is a demand for regional media and the quality that is evolving in the segment is on par with national media.
Sridhar who was the next to take stage offered his opinion on advertising in the regional media. He said, “Advertising in the regional media employs the national theme in the regional context.” He cited examples like that of Asian Paints Pongal ad series that struck an emotional chord with the Tamils. He also cited examples like Titan ad series, Coco- cola ads that feature film stars Vijay and Aamir Khan according to their respective regions and said, “Local idioms and local advertising have evolved over the years and the message communicated will make or mar media.”
Venkat opined that original thinking should be encouraged in regional communication. He cited several facts and figures to support his belief that the best medium to communicate to the masses is the regional media where the reach is tremendous compared to English. He said, “Only 11% speak English in the literate population and the top nine publications are regional language publications. Reach is the most only through the regional language and this drives the nation’s thinking.”
He also cited studies that suggest readers find regional media more credible and opined that regional media does not lean that much towards sensationalism as some of the English dailies have in recent times. He then proceeded to capture a few sensational headlines to support his claim.
The session drew to a close with a thought that city-centric publications will become a very significant aspect of a reader’s life and that both national and regional media will co-exist with regional media evolving in terms of quality and offering.