It is action time for ‘Divya Bhaskar’, the Gujarati daily from the Bhaskar group. The paper has just added four senior officials, one key appointment being Ashwini Agarwal as Gujarat State Head. The paper also is launching ‘Bhaskar City’ on December 5, 2005, which DB officials term as ‘paper-in-paper’, followed by a mass media campaign. Bharat Kapadia, Executive Director, ‘Divya Bhaskar’, calls this the ‘revitalising of the paper’.
The new team comprises former Mid-Day Editor, Aakar Patel, as Group Editor for ‘Divya Bhaskar’ and Ashwini Agarwal, who comes in from Reliance’s brand Vimal as State Head. “He will be responsible for the complete functioning of the paper in Gujarat with the exception of editorial, which is Aakar’s responsibility,” explained Kapadia.
In addition to these, LML’s Dharmendra Mishra has come in as DGM-Operations to look into administration and circulation. ‘Divya Bhaskar’ is in the process of finalising an Ad Sales Head. Tanmay Sheth, who has already joined as Group Head, Ad Sales, would report to the Ad Sales head, once a decision is eventually taken on it.
“With this, we have a new force of people geared to assist ‘Divya Bhaskar’ in its second innings and way forward,” expressed Kapadia. But that is not where the action ends. Another key step coming from the brand is launching of ‘Bhaskar City’, which will be distributed with ‘Divya Bhaskar’.
Kapadia is quick to correct that this isn’t a supplement. “‘Bhaskar City’ is coming to address a need gap we identified in the Gujarat market. It will not be city news but any news that is of importance to the city – whether it is national or international. And not just news, the content will constitute leisure and trends and other newsy articles that would cater to the fast changing tastes of the Gujarati reader.”
‘Bhaskar City’ will begin as a four-pager, all colour paper, and Kapadia pointed out that this might increase at a later date. Giving a perspective on this paper-in-paper, he said, “The readers today are literally becoming ‘fast and forward’ in their lives. Just to give you an example, only some time back people would have laughed at the possibility of Gujarati consumers paying Rs 50 for coffee and today Barista is a rising entity in Gujarat. Cities like Ahmedabad boast of multiplexes and malls. The feedback we have is that in the wake of all this, tastes and preferences, too, are fast changing and the papers haven’t been able to either capture or address this.”
He added, “You should also remember that the kind of content that would cater to such needs isn’t the kind of news that is conducive to the news content of the main paper. It is a differentiated need that needs a differentiated product. Aakar has many ideas for this product and I’m sure he will do a great job to carve a place for ‘Bhaskar City’, too.”
The campaign will be around the new paper, which is one of the steps that Divya Bhaskar is taking in its ‘revitalisation’ process. “‘Divya Bhaskar’ is doing very well in the Gujarat market. Whether you take IRS or NRS, we have clear leadership in key markets like Ahmedabad, Baroda, Surat and Bhavnagar. We have 17 lakh sole readers and that isn’t something that the advertising community is going to miss on. In a manner of speaking, the paper is doing perfectly well and a fact to prove this is that our October billing surpassed all our competitors in space consumption! But we deserve more and we know that there is much opportunity to grow,” he stressed.
A point often raised about ‘Divya Bhaskar’ is that it lacks lustre with the SEC A in Gujarat. Replying to whether this was one of the reasons that the paper was undertaking such steps, Kapadia explained, “Our reader constitution is like a pyramid. The base is very strong, where we beat competition in every way and by that I mean ‘Gujarat Samachar’, as ‘Sandesh’ is now a very poor third. But as we go towards the top, this lead becomes smaller – in some markets we are even equals or a little behind. This is what I see as the opportunity to grow, as I mentioned. The only way we can change here is by making the product stronger than it is and by bringing to the notice of readers who aren’t on board yet. Once that happens, we are confident the product will take care of itself. So, in a way you can say that the objective of the mass campaign and other activities is for these readers to ‘pick the paper’.”
Kapadia promised that there were more activities coming from the paper in December, which could not be revealed just yet, but by the end of which there would be fewer problems that the paper would face, at least on this front.
However, he is very confident on two fronts – the quality of the paper and the faith that the market has in ‘Divya Bhaskar’. “Our content is relevant and all you have to do is compare the two papers to know what I mean. For example, on December 2, our lead story was an exclusive on ISI targeting Gujarati youth, while competition’s was an eight column heading on the weather!” elaborated Kapadia, “The faith of the people can be seen in our October billing. With these points and the course of action we are set to undertake in order to enhance the paper, I don’t think there is anything that comes in the way of our take-off.”
The competitive nuances of the Gujarati print market have been an often discussed example by many media followers and ‘Divya Bhaskar’ comes right in the centre of action. As per various media analysts, ‘Divya Bhaskar’ has opened the Gujarat market and the battle thereon, has always been a fierce one. Even in this case, we can soon expect counter steps from other players in the region.