12th March, 1997. The Brief: launched its first issue. 5th September, 2002. Five years later – it is being put to rest. A tabloid sized fortnightly on advertising trends, The Brief: was popular in the industry – specially, with the creative fraternity. It’s in your face attitude might have angered the ones who were targeted, but delighted all others.
The Brief had entered the market at the right time. A&M, though an advertising and media magazine was skewed heavily towards marketing fraternity. And then there was Ad World (later Solus), but it was almost non-existent. And Brief made enough noise to make its presence felt – it was sold not only outside the agencies, but also inside them! It associated itself with many industry events and also created a few of them – Right Brain Challenge, and Mediamorphosis being the biggest ones. Indira Sinha’s workshop a couple of years back was also a much talked about event.
The industry sources peg the circulation of the magazine at about 10,000 copies.
Initially, it was a struggle to get good ads in the magazine – main reason being that it was a niche magazine and the circulation figures were nothing to write home about. Says an old timer, “First big deal we cracked was with TNT Cartoon Network. We had tied up with them for an entire year. Their competition observed the impact, and then on it was smoother.”
The magazine, cheerful and gossipy, provided a lot of industry news, and along with it analytical features and in-depth interviews. Though initially, the magazine was catered more to creative fraternity, it later introduced Media Brief: in a bid to bring the media guys in its fold as well.
However, Mid Day Multimedia Ltd has now decided to suspend The Brief’s publication. Says Tariq Ansari, MD, Mid Day Multimedia, “at present, we want to concentrate on our mass media businesses - newspapers, radio and outdoor - and therefore decided to exit from the niche publishing business.”
If the industry rumors are to be believed, the group was earlier trying to sell the magazine, and was almost on the verge of closing the deal with a leading international media publication. However, the deal fell apart, and then the management decided to close the magazine.
Those of us, who have been associated with the magazine in some way or the other, will miss it, specially the passion of its editor and the go-getter attitude. However, says Anil Thakraney, Editor and Publisher, The Brief:, “I was planning to move on from January this year itself, having done all of five years on the brand. But I would most definitely have liked the brand to live on. In that sense, it's sad to see it go.”
Will the group ever try to revive the brand? ‘Unlikely’, say the media experts, ‘it’s very difficult to revive a dead brand, Mid Day must have thought from every angel before pulling the plug.’ Agrees Tariq, “It does not seem likely unless we re-enter the niche publishing business.”
Anil remembers a number of interesting incidents that took place in the last five years. He has vivid memories of advertising legends he interviewed for Upclose and Personal (the feature he mostly handled himself), “Many... David Abbott, John Hegarty, Martin Sorrell, Trevor Beattie, John Hegarty, Vinod Mehta, Tarun Tejpal, David Ogilvy... It goes on!” But when you ask him will he want to run the show a second time if the Brief is revived, answer is a definite ‘no’. Says he, “No. Like I said earlier, I was planning to move on since January itself”. He is tight lipped about his future plans. Is he going to handle another project for the group? Another magazine, perhaps? Says he, “Right now I am headed on a long sabbatical.”
But Mid Day Multimedia is planning a lot of new projects. “Yes” says Tariq, “A number of projects. However, with the information restrictions in place being a listed company, I cannot divulge those to you.”
Come 5th September, The Brief:, will be history, maybe a case study to be analyzed in media seminars. However, it really achieved what it had set out to achieve: to provide a platform to the advertising industry to express their views, discuss issues and do it all in the language that we understand the best.
(The writer, Ritu Midha, was earlier associated with The Brief: from the year 1997 to 2000. She is currently heading the exchange4media - Mumbai Bureau.)