Dinamalar supports advertisers with free ad offer till April 25

L Adimoolam, Business & Technical Director, Dinamalar speaks about why the clients, agencies and publications need to pull together during these testing times

e4m by Simran Sabherwal
Updated: Apr 17, 2020 11:04 AM
L Aadimoolam

In the midst of the lockdown, Tamil daily newspaper Dinamalar took the unprecedented decision to offer to its clients free ads from March 30 till April 25.  With advertisers cutting spends, L Adimoolam, Business & Technical Director, Dinamalar explains the rationale behind offering free ads. He also speaks about the relationship between the client, agencies and the publication and staying positive and committed during this period.

 Dinamalar took the big step of offering free ads to clients from March 30 till April 25. What was the rationale behind this move? 

Clients have trusted us over the last seven decades.  Our intention was to ensure that brands stay on our readers’ and their customers’ mind during these times of crisis.  Most advertisers came up with social messages too in the creatives.

 It was just a goodwill gesture and we did what best we could do for our partners. Let us not forget this is the first time people are forced to stay at home and it's the time people are spending more time on newspapers. We have taken this as an opportunity not reduced the pages. We are trying to give more to the readers to make them understand the strength and quality of print news, which other media cannot give. 

What was the response from advertisers and media agencies? 

They appreciate our goodwill gesture for sure; in fact, few clients and agencies who always think only English reading populace is their TG have been calling our team if they can also participate.   It is mutual from both sides. We only hope and pray that we will overcome this situation that is shaking the entire human race.

 With advertising spends being cut, how does Dinamalar look at building brand saliency with advertisers? 

Advertisement spends is the first to be cut in a negative business environment.  I am sure that sooner or later corporates will realize that advertisement is an investment.  We have seen a lot of negative periods. This pandemic has had a global impact. Dialogue is the way forward.   

All three of us -- the client, agency and publication -- should now look at the humanity angle and come out of this situation.  We are sure post the COVID-19 era, all of us will be more empathetic and help each other to come out of this at the earliest so that it benefits all. Besides this, like all other businesses, we will also cut costs that do not affect productivity and protect lives and livelihoods and see how we can get through this tough period. 

 The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has written to the government seeking assistance during the economic crisis. What should be the steps that the government should take?

 Yes, a lot of representation has gone to the GOI.  However, it is time to introspect within the partners (client, agency, publication) and not exploit each other.  On one side, there are larger publications that demand and command. But clients and agencies have always had the joy of exploiting the smaller publication and thus making the big much bigger and the strong much mightier, and then succumb to them.  We hope that the government will look at it (INS’s appeal) and do its best for the industry at large as newspapers have always been a source of credible information for the citizens of this country.

 With part of the workforce, operating from home, what are the challenges in ensuring a seamless operation?

 Keeping the situation in mind, the advertising & sales team was asked to WFH since mid-March.  Telephone calls and mails were sent to clients, but I am sure that you all will agree that advertising was not on top of the clients’ minds as there was a national lockdown and it continues through the whole of April. We stopped interacting with clients and agencies on business. Instead, we focussed on their wellbeing. 

 To keep us occupied and to help the brands be on our readers’ mind space, digital was promoted but that too was very slow. The rest of the departments in the production line like reporting, photography, videography, were 100% working from home or on the field. As we have developed our own apps specifically for this, part of the editorial (including making the pagination) were working from home without much of a hurdle and the operations were seamless. If you ask the challenges, there were not much except for bandwidth drops and security and protecting our network but it is all manageable.

 How do you see revenues panning out for the year?

There is nothing to comment on this at the moment. Let the health of the economy and our people be restored then we will see how the revenues work out.  But as a brand, we will stay positive and committed and we are sure post corona will open up new opportunities and avenues.

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