It's a brave commercial from The Hindu, taking a direct swipe at The Times of India in a new campaign.
The trouble is, it's a reaction to The Times of India — and reacting to a competitor is certainly not the hallmark of a leader.
The current skirmish began with this commercial from The Times of India – "Wake up to The Times of India", with the TVC urging Chennaiites to ‘wake up’, suggesting, by innuendo, that their current reading was putting them to sleep.
The Hindu reacts directly, with a campaign that suggests that The Times of India reader is ill-informed about issues that matter. It is not by innuendo that one learns it is a Times of India reader; the ill-informed protagonists are 'interviewed' and asked which paper they read. Their response, The Times of India is bleeped out.
Take a look at Hindu's commercial here:
The Hindu has made some fundamental errors (beyond the need for a reactionary campaign). The casting of these ill-informed citizenry is poor; one would have thought that they would look like failures, like people who didn't make it. Quite the contrary; these characters are well-dressed and sometimes even happy in their ignorance. “It’s beyond me,” says a pretty girl, laughing, with not a care in the world when asked the question, “What does UPA stand for?”
The choice of questions baffles one — as does the treatment. To suggest that college going students in Chennai — notwithstanding the fact that they are TOI readers — do not know what UPA stands for is exaggerated to an extent that it stops being funny. The list of questions that fox the ignorati "Who will succeed Ratan Tata as head of the TATA group?", "What did Dhyan Chand play?", "Who is the author of the Harry Potter series?", "Paul McCartney was a part of which band?", "What does ATM stand for?", and so on make The Hindu look like a confused Competition Success Review rather than a highly respected newspaper.
To compound these errors (by the way, what's the answer to the Paul McCartney question — it could have been Quarrymen, Beatles or Wings?) there's the unsaid notion that The Hindu knows what people should read — and that's a thought that would make citizens, in today's world, uncomfortable.
The tragedy is that this campaign was unneceesary. Rather than react to The Times of India's campaign, all that The Hindu need have done is to counter it with a campaign that demonstrated the core values of the newspaper — for its the core values that have kept the paper going all these years.
The brief for a new campaign could have been culled out from N Ram's farewell letter written last week.
“The Hindu is, way ahead, India's most respected newspaper — about that there can be little question. Founded on September 20, 1878, we are the oldest living daily newspaper in the freedom movement tradition. Our strengths are drawn from our rich history…”, “The latest round of the Indian Readership Survey confirms our position as South India’s No 1 English language daily in terms of readership. Our other publications, Business Line, Frontline, and Sportstar, have also developed well, winning a reputation for independence, integrity, reliability, relevance, and quality….”, “The greatest asset of The Hindu, founded in September 1878,’ the Code begins, ‘is trust. Everything we do as a company revolves, and should continue to revolve, round this hard-earned and inestimable long-term asset.”
That's all The Hindu needed to do — talk about these values. Instead, they've chosen to react to The Times of India — and in doing so, talk like a number two.
Updated Date: Jan 27, 2012 13:59 PM