The new Divya Bhaskar campaign has attracted more than just media attention. The campaign used statements made by media practitioners on Divya Bhaskar's growth. While, on the one hand, competition like Gujarat Samachar has taken serious objection to this, the professionals whose quotes have been used insisted that they were not informed that these were to be used as testimonials in these ads. Bhaskar officials have assured that the ads would be withdrawn.
The new Divya Bhaskar campaign unfolded a series of ads, where, in the first set, the visuals showed media professionals with their lips sewn, safety pinned or nailed. The copy varied from 'I know Gujarat's most preferred newspaper, but I wasn't allowed to speak' to 'I tried to recommend Divya Bhaskar, the emerging leader in Gujarat, but I was silenced' – all pointing on Bhaskar's growth based on the latest NRS data.
The names and agencies of the media officials were also used in the ads. Some of the names seen are that of Kumar Manish, GroupM, Prasun Kumar, Madison Media, and Shubhra Sethi, MindShare.
The second set of ads keep the visuals but have taken off agency names and have mis-spelt the names of the professionals.
Designed by Triton, Ahmedabad, the campaign was executed in both trade media and mainstream media. A strong objection against the campaign has come from Gujarat Samachar. Giving the publication's point of view, Kunjesh Parihar, CEO, Gujarat Samachar, said, "For the agencies involved, more so the individuals, who are grooming for the future of the industry, any action like this doesn't give a good or a professional feel."
"The whole campaign indeed is done in bad taste," he said, adding, "Statements suggesting media professionals being stopped from speaking, by whom? Advertisers, their seniors? What do these creatives mean?"
The agencies involved reiterated that they were not a part of the campaign and were shocked to see the ads. Vikram Sakhuja, CEO, MindShare, India and South Asia, said, "We are not involved with this campaign in any way. Nothing was shared with us or told to us before the campaign was released. The views expressed aren't that of any of the individuals or of the agency."
Asserting the same, Madison Media's Prasun Kumar gave a more detailed picture. He informed, "It began with a normal, casual call from the Delhi representative of Divya Bhaskar. I was told that based on the NRS data, Divya Bhaskar wanted to do a communication on the growth of the publication and that media planners from all over India are being photographed for this. The impression given was that it was one of the trade activities we see today. I didn't see any harm in being photographed. The next I see is this whole full-fledged campaign with statements that I neither made nor subscribe to."
Kumar further said that the agency and he were “completely not in the know”, but to clear out matters and problems that other members of the fraternity might face because of this, the agency was in the process of issuing a disclaimer ad.
"The action could have hurt the sentiments of other publications and we want to clear things out. Divya Bhaskar has already assured that they are going to pull out these ads," he added.
As for Divya Bhaskar, Bharat Kapadia, Executive Director, said, "The matter stated doesn't amount to an endorsement by the agency. Just as identification is used in any ad, we used in this too. That said, whatever has been stated in the copy is factual and we will modify the ads and continue the campaign."
Both Madison Media and GroupM are taking action to state that they weren't involved in these ads by issuing a communication of that nature. Gujarat Samachar adds more to this. "The agencies express that these statements aren't made by them but by the publication," said Parihar.