Print media war hots up in Mumbai

By , agencyfaqs! | In Media Publishing | March 29, 2005
Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited has responded to ZEE-Bhaskar's outdoor teaser campaign with 'cheeky' print ads for Maharashtra Times on March 27, 2005

The war of the dailies seems to have begun in earnest in Mumbai. And, the first salvo has been fired by the grand Old Lady of Boribunder.

Now, if you are under the impression that the issue in question is the Independent News - the new English daily to be launched by Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited (BCCL) in May - then it isn't so.

The topic of discussion instead is an advertising campaign released by BCCL for group publication Maharashtra Times.

According to round one of the IRS 2005, the Marathi daily is ahead of the Indian Express group's Loksatta - the traditional leader in Mumbai - by a narrow margin of 10,000 readers. The overall readership of Maharashtra Times in the commercial capital is 9.46-lakh, while Loksatta trails at 9.36-lakh as per the latest IRS.

This dethronement of Loksatta by Maharashtra Times would obviously call for a celebration. And BCCL did celebrate, in typical style, that is - by releasing a series of print ads on March 27, 2005 to announce its victory.

If this is a familiar tactic by the group, what is different is the execution. The campaign, which ran in all group publications including Sunday Times, Economic Times, Navbharat Times as well as Maharashtra Times on Sunday, borrowed heavily from the on-going outdoor teaser campaign by the ZEE-Bhaskar combine, to drive home the message.

The Maharashtra Times campaign shows visuals of five individuals - eerily similar to the ones in the hoarding campaign by ZEE-Bhaskar - taking off a grey sticker that seals their mouths.

The original ZEE-Bhaskar campaign has the faces of different people (including a grey haired, bearded man) with their mouths sealed shut with a grey strip. These billboards (sans copy and logo, that is) have dotted the Mumbai landscape for the last ten days creating quite a stir in the marketplace. The second phase of the campaign was launched on March 27 with a line accompanying the original image - 'Speak up. It's in your DNA'.

Even as ZEE-Bhaskar slowly unveils the teaser campaign, what is interesting is how rival BCCL has "hijacked" the basic concept. "That was the idea," says Rahul Kansal, brand director, The Times of India. "To have a sequel to the teaser campaign."

Created by the art director-copywriter duo of Karan Rawat and Vipul of Enterprise Nexus, Mumbai, the core idea of using the hoarding campaign came from Vineet Jain, MD of BCCL, says Kansal.

Bhupal Ramnathkar, executive creative director, Enterprise Nexus, adds, "When doing a campaign for The Times of India group, the emphasis has always been on using a current topic of discussion. Everybody has been wondering what this campaign (from ZEE-Bhaskar) is all about and we simply used it to our advantage. Henceforth nobody will do a teaser campaign without a logo! That's a lesson for the industry."
The campaign, for the record, was executed in a matter of two days - over Friday (March 25) and Saturday (March 26)- with discussions between client and agency happening over phone!

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