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The Economist unveils third leg of communication in India

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | November 17, 2009
The Economist's third leg of communication in India is a subtle change from awareness to consumer engagement

This time, The Economist won't just splash its communication across outdoor and print media but will also coax readers to respond to it. In an attempt to move beyond awareness and into the sphere of engagement, The Economist's third campaign in India invites its readers to 'interpret' the communication they see.

As can be recalled, The Economist launched its first India specific campaign in early 2008, dominated by outdoor and print (which the brand is famous for using globally). The campaign first made use of the positioning statement, Interpret the world, which was communicated through a series of alphabet based creatives which gave the reader a surprising/unique interpretation of regular terms revolving around the news realities across the globe.

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This was followed up by the 'Script' campaign in May 2009, in which headlines were written in what seemed at first glance to be a foreign script, even though it was in English, thereby getting the reader to make two connections: first, to realise that the seemingly foreign script was actually English and secondly, to understand which piece of international news the headline referred to.

The brand's third campaign in India revolves around the insight that events over time have consequences and are interlinked in a way that's not always obvious to us. To understand the real story, getting the connections between events and how they create an unexpected impact is the real joy of reading The Economist, says Suprio Guha Thakurta, managing director, The Economist Group, India.

One such story could be how the rising price of fuel and its scarcity forced developed nations to look for alternatives and in a much heralded success story, bio-fuels based on food grains looked like a possible saviour. Companies were encouraged with subsidies by the developed world. This had an unanticipated side effect - food grain moved across boundaries to feed bio-fuel factories, leading to a food scarcity in certain parts of the world.

Each creative uses three visuals superimposed on each other and each of these elements play with the others to tell an interesting story which isn't obvious when one first looks at the visual. The idea is to have the reader figure out the connections and interpreting the whole picture, thereby creating an 'aha' moment for the person.

Six such stories have been depicted through this campaign, devised by Ogilvy India. Unlike the earlier two campaigns, this one allows for engagement: the creatives contain an option to send an SMS to the short code 57578 and ask for the interpretation. A short message will be sent back with the story.

Thakurta claims that since the launch of the campaign a week ago, the company has already received more than 2,700 SMSes to this effect in the cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru (where the campaign has been released).

The campaign has predominantly used outdoor and print. Apart from the SMS engagement platform, the brand shall also make use of online media such as banner ads and even a game on social networking site, Facebook.

The six creative subjects (same as those in the outdoor/print campaign) comprising three visual elements each shall be thrown up before Facebook users (a total of 18 elements). On selecting any one element, the user will be given the other two corresponding elements belonging to that particular creative and through a series of hints, the user may 'fill in the blanks' to uncover the relationship between the three visuals.

If he does so successfully, he will be guided to the website, www.interprettheworld.in (a site created for this purpose), wherein he gets to read the full corresponding story in The Economist. Similarly, anyone logging on to the site has the option of playing this game.

Further, The Economist India also has its own group on Facebook comprising more than 7,000 members who will also be invited to play this game.

Sumanto Chattopadhyay, executive creative director, Ogilvy India and South Asia, says, "When faced with creating The Economist's third campaign in India, we were wondering whether to create Phase 3 of 'Interpret the world' or launch a new thought altogether. However, we stuck to the former while adding the engagement angle to be more involving to our discerning reader. This campaign is all about pushing the envelope without being obscure or irrelevant."

The team at Ogilvy on this campaign includes Chattopadhyay, Sukesh Kumar Nayak, Heeral Desai Akhaury, Vedashree Khambete and R Pratheeb.