Indian Express undergoes a brand refresh, targets ‘The Indian Intelligent’

George Varghese, CEO of the Express Group talks about the brand campaign ‘The Indian Intelligent’ and the group’s renewed focus on digital

e4m by Saloni Dutta
Updated: Jul 31, 2015 8:49 AM
Indian Express undergoes a brand refresh, targets ‘The Indian Intelligent’

The Express completes 83 years this year and is standing on the cusp of transformation, said Viveck Goenka, Group Chairman & Managing Director of The Indian Express Group in an address he made to the Express employees recently. In a first ever, the group has launched a large-scale advertising campaign, ‘The Indian Intelligent’ which has been executed by Creativeland Asia and aims to reiterate the message of what the publication stands for and how people are choosing credible news over sensationalism. This is all part of the brand refresh that has happened with introduction of the new pages like ‘Explained’ and refreshing the mobile app etc. The group is also going bullish on digital for all its brands and recently announced the launch of the Jaipur edition earlier this month.

‘The Indian Intelligent’ campaign will be rolled out across India on TV, digital, outdoor, print and cinema with the aim of garnering a larger market share. The TVC starts with the visual of a newspaper floating in rainwater and with a statement, ‘First things first, the newspaper is dead’. The ads emphasize the USP of the paper, its credibility and reiterates what the publication stands for and who it talks to. The series includes four other 30-second TVCs which follow a similar theme.

Link to the campaign -

George Varghese, CEO of the Express Group shares his views on the brand refresh, the brand campaign ‘The Indian Intelligent’ and on the group’s strategy going ahead.

What were the insights that led to the brand refresh and the development of ‘The Indian Intelligent’ campaign?

Change is the only constant, and with time every product needs to refresh itself. The positioning that we’re taking is that while we will do investigative stories which come from our ‘Journalism of Courage’ and our DNA of being fearless, honest with high integrity there are two more dimensions we want to highlight. In today's  context, we feel that a newspaper has to play the role of explaining news to its readers, explain the context, give a different viewpoint, interpret news, what it mean for the reader?  This is what has got reinforced with this brand refresh. Adding to that we have tweaked the page layout, fonts etc. for better readability and aesthetics.

One of the insights behind the campaign was that newspapers always thought that their job is to break news. It’s not about breaking news anymore, many a times people don’t even remember who broke the news. I think breaking news is no longer going to be a differentiator except in the case of big investigative stories .The second insight was that when news is all over the place, there are very few sources which provide you with the context, in-depth analysis, look at the larger picture beyond that news, and more importantly explain the relevance it bears to the reader and how it will change his/her life tomorrow. This is a clear need gap. The third insight was that a lot of sensationalism has crept in with the internet. You put a provocative headline, and everyone will read the story. Credibility has become an issue hence.

When we looked at these insights and then looked at our core values and strength, the opportunity was right there for us.

Like I said earlier investigative journalism was always our strength and with the kind of columnists that we have and the new explained page that we have launched nobody offers better views, perspectives and explains news better than us. Making Profits is important to us because we need to be financially independent and viable to sustain growth, But it will never be at the cost of our values. Journalism of Courage is in our DNA. We are the only people who can write a story on anything. We have no holy cows.. We offer the perfect credible platform.  So to summarise investigative journalism, explaining news, and credibility are the three pillars of our unique positioning and the campaign reiterates that.

What is the brand’s digital strategy, especially the plans on growing all the brands on digital?

Digital is a dynamic medium and we are quite bullish on it. We have a disproportionately high page views on digital and are at number three position in terms of page views amongst all English news websites. The credibility that Express has works for us on digital as well. We are working on expansion plans on digital around the mother brands. Profitability is increasing and we want to leverage the opportunity by investing in Digital. Talking about monetizing Digital from an advertising perspective we are not having any problem on that front. The profits are increasing gradually, to put it in context, the profits we made last quarter are equal to the profit we made last year from Digital. And it is all related to the credibility of the product and the response that we generate.

You recently launched the Jaipur edition for the paper. What are the plans to increase brand footprint?

Our Chairman’s commitment is that we will open new centres. We are not in the numbers game beyond a certain point. We are clearly appealing to a certain section of readers. We are not in the entertainment news or page three news and will not be in that game. We are looking for serious readers who are looking for things beyond just the news. The Jaipur launch is in the context of improving our footprint in Rajasthan. We do everything in the context of sustainable growth and hence have to be particular in picking places for new launches going ahead.

How have you seen the reader profile change in the last 5 years?

The biggest misconception people have is that serious readers are older in age but the biggest encouragement for us is the number of young readers who have come to the brand in the last few years. The response we see across demographic segments is extremely encouraging.

How have the revenues been in the last 3 years?

We’ve had a decent run. I won’t quote numbers. Last year was okay.

What are your forecasts for the brand in the coming year?

All this expansion and buzz around the brand can only sustain if we can remain financially viable. Therefore growth is important. The challenge for us is to see if we can grow better than the market. I think given the values that the brand stand for  the profile of readers that we deliver it is very much possible.

With a lot of content going online, where do you see print in the future?

Print will continue to grow in India. I’m not taking a perspective beyond 5-10 years. The movement from print to digital might be complimentary but it is inevitable. We also have new readers coming in.  Growth is very much possible. In the context of Indian Express, we’ve got big scope for growth, in print as well as digital.

Link to the video of Mr. George Varghese talking on the brand refresh and digital strategy -

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