Vijay Karnataka is running a ‘Yuva Garjane’ campaign to reinforce its focus as a youthful paper. The campaign, which began in the first week of October, has a series of six ads centering on the youth and their aim to change the way things work.
One ad reads - ‘Namage Bekagiruva Leaders; Naave Yaake Aagabaradu?’ meaning ‘We need leaders today, so why not become leaders ourselves?’ The ads reflect the views, ideas, and aspirations of the present generation and positions Vijay Karnataka as the voice of this generation. The objective is to consolidate the paper’s ‘youth’ coverage and go beyond the ‘political’ coverage, which most regional publications tend to dish out.
Elaborating on the new campaign, Sunil Rajshekhar, Director, BCCL and CEO, Times VPL Ltd, said, “Yuva Garjane or the ‘roar of the youth’, the theme of our latest campaign, clearly reflects not only the dreams and aspirations of the younger generation, but also succinctly highlights their changing attitude towards life. The youth today have a questioning attitude and don’t buy into the platitudes of old. This ‘Youth’ positioning that we sought for VK was also in the background of 60 per cent of India’s population being under 30 years of age and our belief that this group now needs to take centrestage with their ideas and the vision to drive thought and action for State and Country.”
This is a 360-degree campaign that encompasses all media – print, outdoor, radio, TV, cinema, and online, with youth-focused content to complement it. It is expected to continue till the end of this year. There will be the usual brand activation plans that will go on beyond this year.
Youth focus prevails
The paper has consciously strengthened its focus primarily on the youth over the past year in a bid to understand their goals, needs and aspirations better, reflect their views, and appeal to their sensibilities. This, however, does not reflect a movement away from their older readership who, according to VK, need to look at a newspaper with a younger mindset. Over the past year, the paper has been consciously trying to get away from merely highlighting politics, which is the mainstay of most Kannada dailies, to include more business, entertainment, and sports news, among other topics. The aim is to showcase VK as a balanced offering with a variety of news content and ensure that the youth is comfortable with the product to keep them interested in reading newspapers.
Rajshekhar explained, “Ever since we acquired the paper, we have taken the Times Group’s approach of packaging and shaping it with youthful content that would enable it to attract and retain its youth constituency. However, such a change in culture within the ranks of our own content team was a challenge and there had to be an upheaval before we were in a position to reshape it to our satisfaction. According to IRS figures, around 70 per cent of our readers are below 40 years and 85 per cent of our readers are below 50. So, since our paper is mainly read by a younger audience, we want to continue to be relevant to them and keep them in our fold. Moreover, for a newspaper to continue to grow in the long term, it has to attract, build, and nurture a younger readership base.”
VPL began the repositioning with the launch of Lavala VK, a lifestyle supplement in 2009-10, where the primary focus was on youth and women. Vijaya Next, a weekly, was launched in 2010 as a brand extension of VK in Tier-II cities, mainly in the urban areas. “Lavala VK is expected eventually to move on the same lines as Bangalore Times. Thereafter, the launch of VK Education, VK Property, and VK Drive during 2009-10, all came about with the idea of creating an environment for advertisers that sought to reach out to a younger and consumption-focused audience base. A brand extension – Vijaya Next was launched, again with the purpose of ensuring that VK retains this reader segment by offering them a world view which no other Kannada publication offers,” Rajshekhar added.
VK’s revenue market share amongst the five Kannada dailies is estimated to be around 50 per cent. Revenues have grown at a fast clip of over 20 per cent in 2010-11, although the current year has been much slower. The paper has also posted an increase in its average issue readership (AIR) according to the IRS 2011 Q2 results. From Q2 2010, it has registered a 7 per cent increase in readership in Bangalore and a 5 per cent increase, adding 1.7 lakh readers in Karnataka.
Reasons for being on top
Outlining the reasons for retaining the top position, Rajshekhar explained, “Vijay Karnataka has been on the top right since 2005 onwards and continues to hold that position both on ABC as well as IRS. What brought VK to the top is the spread that we have in terms of the number of editions – 14 in all, across Karnataka. VK’s ability to achieve day-break distribution with 10 printing centres, coupled with hyper local coverage for each of these cities plus adjoining cities too has been a runaway success. Though what really keeps it up there is its content and advertising vibrancy. Moreover, no other Kannada daily offers an all-colour product as VK does. Even though VK has been the new kid on the block, it enjoys a great reputation for its quality as well as credibility across all its constituents – amongst readers as well as advertisers.”
However, despite Kannada dailies making it to the top 2 in Bangalore and occupying the top 5 positions in the State, as per IRS figures, the Kannada market shows a slower growth when compared to other South Indian languages. According to Rajshekhar, “The Kannada market, when compared to the other South Indian markets, has shown a slower growth over the years. Many reasons come to mind, but I would like to stress on two – one, the media itself has tended to be conservative, focusing on politics alone with an environment where only tender ads could thrive. The more discerning amongst readers have, therefore, no choice but to reach out to English media to get their world view. Another factor to consider is the fact that Bangalore being as cosmopolitan as it is, has tended to create a perception in the minds of advertisers that Bangalore and even the rest of Karnataka can be reached through the English media alone. This is not so since the SEC AB readership of Vijay Karnataka alone surpasses the SEC AB readership of all general English papers put together. There’s a great audience base out there which advertisers are missing out on.”
Over the last one and a half years, the group has also turned its focus on emerging markets in Karnataka. In all the major centres, they have an all-colour offering. This was implemented in Bangalore 2-3 years ago, in Mangalore and Mysore in 2010, and in Hubli six months earlier. It has doubled colour capacities in the rest of the editions to create the right environment for advertisers and also cater to readers’ interests. Rajshekhar affirmed, “We are consciously focusing on the other emerging markets in Karnataka such as Mangalore, Mysore, Hubli, Belgaum, etc. These markets, including cities such as Bellary and Hospet, where advertisers are reaching out to consumers, have always been focus markets for us. By vigorously aiming at ad-relevant circulation and altering the urban: rural share in favour of Karnataka’s urban audiences, the objective has been to ensure a sure and effective reader-connect with advertisers. In fact, this is what makes VK the most effective option across the state.”