Antara Ghosal

HT: It is time again

HT has come out with a brand new campaign which is actually a fresh creative rendition of 'It is time'

Hindustan Times is back in the news with a new rendition of its 'It is time' campaign.

This time, too, the brand has taken up issues which are contextual and real life, which capture the way most people respond – be it in a traffic jam or in day-to-day life. A rolled up newspaper is used to deliver a 'whack' as a creative device to signify the required change in thought.

However, this time, the brand has picked up more of civic and infrastructure issues, in line with its Mumbai First and Delhi First initiatives. Several other films are in the pipeline, which include more generic themes.

The brief given to the agency was that the new campaign was to be a continuation of the core communication platform of Hindustan Times as an agent of change. The new campaign, therefore, continues HT's core thought of pause-think-change by picking up topics which are relevant in the life of an ordinary citizen, in a non-preachy tone.

'It is time' is being run in multiple cities with a focus on Mumbai. "HT has been taking up these issues in Delhi and other cities for more than 80 years, so we don't need to spell it out there; in Mumbai, where we are still relatively new, we've specifically called it out as 'It is time to put Mumbai First' as a part of the Mumbai First initiative," says Shantanu Bhanja, head, marketing, India, HT.

The campaign will run through June-July but the overall platform is one that HT plans to run for some time.

The campaign has been conceptualised by Lowe Lintas. The creative team at Lowe which worked on the campaign includes R Balakrishnan, chairperson and chief creative officer; Amer Jaleel, national creative director; A Suspi, creative head, Delhi; Tanul Bhartiya, vice-president; Shayondeep Pal, creative director; Harpal Singh, creative director; Shiv Sagar, brand services director; and Abhinav Deodhar, brand services manager.

While talking about the creative concept, Jaleel says, "The thought behind the campaign is that in most of the cities, people are caught up in their own issues and don't realise that the city is suffering because of it. We wanted to reflect this through our campaign. It's not yours, not mine – but the city's first."

Hindustan Times is conceptualised as an 'instrument of change' intended to make people 'pause, think and change'. The realisation that it is imperative to change 'now' is the underlying thought behind the 'It is time' re-launch campaign.

How was it this time?

The ad has generated mixed responses from the creative fraternity. If some find the ad entertaining with a great production quality, others find it predictable and point out an absence of a connect with the product.

"The traffic situation is a big cliché for me. Brands have done it and then overdone it. The woman sorting it out in the end wasn't a big enough surprise or 'wow' moment for me to ignore the use of the cliché. It was expected and failed to surprise. The Wastage TVC didn't do anything – it didn't make me sit up and notice, laugh, cry or anything else! So I'd categorise both the commercials as avoidable," says Charles Victor, national creative director, Law& Kenneth.

Victor adds that he finds the commercial too predictable. "In the third second of the traffic commercial, I'd already expected someone to whack the two men on the head. So basically, I finished the commercial even before it played out. This isn't just the advertising guy in me talking. I'm sure there is something more surprising that could have been done to salvage these films. They completely lack the surprise that was intended and aren't very original in their choice of situations," he adds.

Karan Rawat, executive creative director, Grey India echoes his thoughts. Although Rawat finds the ad entertaining and the production quality quite good, he thinks the product connect is missing. He cites the examples of The Economist and The Independent to put across his point.

"Also, if you don't give a good enough reason to switch, people will probably not switch to HT," adds Rawat.

According to Victor, it's high time newspapers stopped telling people to be socially active citizens! "They should tell me about 'me'! Not about what you want me to be," he adds.

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