Last week, this campaign for The Hindu broke in India and there’s been a ton of discussion, most of it positive.
I enjoyed the campaign as much as anyone else, in as much as one enjoys competitive ads. The ads are entertaining and provoke a smile. Many a creative, I’m sure, would be wishing they’d thought of it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the campaign picks up a few awards along the way too.
Congratulations to Ogilvy (the agency which created the communication) for getting all of that right.
For what it’s worth I had three observations:
• Acquire/Retain: As a reader of Times of India, I find the ads a tad insulting. They belittle me and my knowledge, assuming that as I read the Times of India, I am some sort of low-on-general-knowledge person. If you make that assumption of your prospect, I don’t see how he can be bright enough to subscribe to an ‘intelligent’ newspaper. On the flip side, as a reader of The Hindu, I feel good that The Hindu is finally standing up and taking on the Times of India. Quite a few of my Hindu reader friends are very happy with this campaign. So I see this campaign working better with current readers than in getting new subscriptions.
• Why buy me: I think raising the question of adequacy of information v/s the hierarchy of information are two different things. For example, the assumption that knowing the full form of UPA is more important than Hrithik Roshan’s pet name. Is it? Who decided that? I believe the stronger route could have been around the nature of information carried by The Hindu. For example, I remember when I lived in Chennai, and read The Hindu, in the context of sports we used to talk about (among other things) the fact that The Hindu was the only paper in the country that carried scores of every county cricket match. I think some work could’ve been done in the area of information that The Hindu carried, to the exclusion of the Times of India and thus created a strong reason to buy The Hindu as opposed to just knocking the competition.
• Brand: The tone and manner of the campaign is quite at variance with The Hindu brand. The Hindu is solid, conservative, intelligent, reliable and middle class. The campaign comes across as young, contemporary and ballsy. I see that as a bit of a mismatch. Add to it, the content of the paper is heavy reading and not quite in the same wavelength of the Twitter/SMS/FB generation who are the characters shown in the advertising. I think some fine tuning on this aspect — by getting a little more targeted in the respondents — could make for a stronger campaign.
Then there’s also the issue that Bollywood is central to most media channels in India. Yesterday’s Hindu carried this piece on Shahrukh Khan and is among the five most popular articles of the day. So knocking it (Bollywood) in your advertising but carrying it in your product is a contradiction of marketing (not just communications) strategy.
I still think The Hindu campaign is a good campaign and I hope it works for The Hindu — heaven knows they deserve a break after everything they’ve gone through over the past few years.
And I hope Ogilvy wins a few awards for it. Some old colleagues have their names against it!