So, as the titans of the Print media, Hindu and TOI engage in a head-on clash through their advertisements, with plenty of responses and counter-responses, knee-jerk reactions and the endless banter, I have one question to ask – have they ever thought about who decides the winner?
Let me take you through the reel of how things unfolded on this:
1) First, the TOI took potshots on the Hindu by saying that Chennai (a Hindu stronghold) should ‘wake up to TOI’ because right now they are reading ‘boring’ news which puts them to sleep (alluding to the Hindu news reporting style). They claim that their reporting will make a reader ‘wake up’ and be active for his day ahead. Watch that campaign below
2) Next, after a couple of months, Hindu has recently hit back with the a set of campaigns, attacking TOI’s preference towards reporting Bollywood and Page 3 news. With the campaigns they have tried to highlight that people do not know about issues of social and national interest and know more about bollywood gossip. And they have laid the blame of this to the newspaper they read, which is Times of India (the name is beeped out from the ad, but it is still easy to make out which name it is). The caption too is a an attack – ‘stay ahead of the times‘
Watch the Hindu campaigns below:
Now, coming back to my question, while the print media champions are leveraging their strength areas (interesting news and relevant news respectively for TOI and Hindu), they are ignoring the end-consumer in their chain of campaigns taking potshots at each other. Here’s what I think:
1) The Hindu ads reflect that the TOI readers are missing out on ‘important general knowledge’ which they would get when reading the Hindu. A broad image that comes across is that the TOI reader is kinda dumb. Now, these are the readers that the Hindu wants to be converted to their own bastion. Attacking the target consumer is not something I would like. If I am a TOI reader (And I am!), my reaction to this would be to immediately get into the defensive mode, with a thought process like – hey I know this, I know that, I am not dumb and I don’t need to switch my newspaper! – and if that is the reaction of the TG, why do any advertising at all?
2) The TOI ad, which was released earlier, is also guilty of attacking the TG they want to break away from the Hindu. A broad section of south india population is educated and quite interested in keeping themselves updated on the happenings of social and national interest. They take pride on this, and wouldn’t really be lured to the fact that TOI makes the news ‘interesting’ . (In fact, there have been quite a few incidences where TOI has been highlighted to add unnecessary ‘mirch masala‘ to common happenings – facebook is full of such examples which have gone viral).
So, the readers of both newspapers know their respective paper’s strengths, and like to stick to it. But when you are taking potshots at the competitor, do take it only at the competing brand and not its users. Because the users are people whom you want to switch from the competitor to you. And its not wise to attack them, even indirectly or mildly – People have fragile egos and get to the defensive.
Hindustan Times, in fact, showed the way how it can be done. Like the Hindu, they too wanted to leverage responsible journalism. They simply talked about themselves, and not about others. And that’s how advertising is supposed to be – talk about your own brand, don’t waste money on airtime by talking about competition. Look at the HT campaigns: HT 1; HT 2; HT 3.
Let’s see how this pans out for both the newspapers. Hopefully, they will get back to track and start making more sense in their ads than cajoling egos!