Chitralekha's one-for-three

By , agencyfaqs! | In | July 13, 2001
Chitralekha Marathi failed to solicit more advertising even after its unique alliance with Deshdoot. Will the new Specials offer lead the way?

Over 10 weeks after Chitralekha Marathi forged a unique alliance with the Marathi daily Deshdoot, the former has nearly doubled its circulation while the latter has twice revised the cover price of the newspaper. The Marathi weekly now claims to sell 2,13,000 copies, up from 1,03,000 pre-tie-up.
Deshdoot's price, which had jumped to Rs 3.50 from Rs 2.50, is up again to Rs 4.50. There is only one area of concern: advertising revenues. "The readers have been addressed in the first phase," replies Bharat Kapadia, managing editor and associate publisher, Chitralekha. "The time for advertisers starts now."

It begins with the August 27 Ganapati Special issue of Chitralekha Marathi, spreading over to the September 3 Ganapati Special, and an October anniversary issue. To lure advertisers, the company has launched what it terms a "1-ka-3, 3-ka-1 offer". A subscriber to this offer receives free ad space (in the form of a third ad) in the anniversary issue on booking one ad each in the two Ganapati Specials. Kapadia and his team are expecting another 1-lakh copies jump during the Ganapati festival period. Simultaneously, they expect to see 40-50 pages of ads in the 70-page Special issues, as against 12-13 ads in the usual 50-pager.

The festival of Lord Ganesh is celebrated with fervour across the state of Maharashtra, dating back to Lokmanya Tilak's century-old 'sarvanjanik' (for everyone) calls initiated in Pune. Chitralekha Ganapati Specials trace their origin to 1989, the year of the magazine's launch. The company was quick to leverage the opportunity in its launch year with a special issue that explored various facets of the festival. It came as no surprise when the first special registered a 50-per cent rise in sales.

Sensing the potential, the Group followed the routine religiously. Sales grew by nearly half every year. A windfall came a decade later. In 1999, Bharat Kapadia, managing editor and associate publisher, hit upon a novel idea to mark the tenth anniversary. "I was passing through Siddhivinayak Temple (Prabhadevi, Mumbai) with a friend in the car and we saw long queues on a Tuesday," he recalls. "I also remember seeing a person chewing guthka from a Pan Parag pouch and I detested that site. It stayed in my mind. Later I thought, what if devotees were spared this ordeal of waiting in the queues and we could put that innovative pouch to a better use?"

In August 1999, Chitralekha Marathi sent two truckloads of offerings to the Siddhivinayak Temple, conducted the holy ceremonies, and brought back the 'prasad'. The tenth anniversary Ganapati issue of Chitralekha Marathi (which hit the stands around September 1999) carried pouches of 'prasad' from the Temple, along with a priest's certification and ceremony photographs. Sales nearly doubled to 1,80,000 copies, from a lakh. This time, Kapadia says his team is making arrangements for ground events. "The thoughts are on but nothing has been finalised as of now," he says.

In effect, the Chitralekha Group now hopes to see sales of nearly 3 lakh copies with the trio. "It will be the first Marathi magazine ever to cross the 2-lakh sales figure," claims Kapadia. And that's not the only reason why advertisers ought to bite, he says. "These issues are almost always preserved by people. There is a certain faith attached to them. Can you quantify that faith?"

Three rupees perhaps, if the cover price is some indication. It jumps from Rs 7 to Rs 10!

© 2001 agencyfaqs!