Ashwini GangalPublished: 30 May 2012, 12:00 AM
Advertising

Firstpost.com takes a dig at 'the morning newspaper'

Online news portal Firstpost.com takes a pot-shot at regular print newspapers to make readers rethink their view of 'news-as-it-happens'.

Firstpost.com, the online news property from the stable of Web18, has rolled out a television commercial that attempts to position it as an alternative to regular print newspapers. The latter, the ad insists, involves unnecessary deforestation. Thus, the ad also serves to position the brand as an eco-friendly one.

Firstpost.com takes a dig at 'the morning newspaper'
Further, print newspapers are depicted as bearers of day-old, stale news as opposed to real-time digital news, underscoring Firstpost.com's commitment to digital journalism.

This is not the site's first attempt at TV advertising; the launch campaign included a TVC encouraging people to participate on Firstpost.com. This time around, however, the objective is to change the way newspapers are perceived and urge newspaper readers to migrate to online news in general and Firstpost.com in particular.

Stating that the ad is as much about the digital news category as a whole as it is about Firstpost.com, Durga Raghunath, vice-president, product and executive news producer, Firstpost.com, tells afaqs!, "We want to make the reader stop equating news with the morning newspaper. The objective is to get people to turn to Firstpost.com for their first dose of news and opinion on the web, or on any mobile medium for that matter."

Firstpost.com is an exclusive digital newsroom that, unlike many other online news sites, is not an offshoot of a traditional newspaper that replicates its content online. The site caters to the needs of people who're on-the-go, and those who use tablets, smartphones and other conventional devices such as laptops to access online news.

Firstpost.com takes a dig at 'the morning newspaper'
According to the brand authorities, the campaign is based on reader feedback and usage data, which indicates how the scope of 'the morning paper experience' was dwindling. The feedback showed that people are moving to digital at all points of the day, not just at work or during commute. "We also found that too many of us feel, while reading the morning newspaper, that we had already covered so much more the previous day on the internet," Raghunath explains.

Ravi Deshpande, chief creative officer, Contract Advertising (the agency that has created this campaign), explains that though people are moving to the internet more often to seek news, the perception of 'reading news' is still dominated by 'the morning newspaper'.

"Challenging newspapers had to be done at a poetic level," he explains, when asked about the save-the-planet stance adopted by the brand. "While personally I feel reading a newspaper in the morning is rather romantic, the shift to digital is inevitable," he adds.

Besides pure digital patrons, the campaign is targeted at internet users who also read physical newspapers. Little wonder then that besides TV, the campaign will mobilise the digital medium aggressively.

Hard-hitting?

Firstpost.com takes a dig at 'the morning newspaper'
Firstpost.com takes a dig at 'the morning newspaper'
According to Vishnu Srivatsav, executive creative director and creative head, Batey India (Grey's second agency in India), the ad is a bit confused as it straddles two completely disparate and equally relevant insights -- the name Firstpost.com lends itself naturally to the whole fastest news/news-as-it-happens bit and since it's a website it could quite naturally take on the eco-friendly moral high ground. "The trouble is, they should've chosen one," he remarks.

"Apart from the 'one day late' part, which almost comes in as an afterthought, it's very much a tree-hugging ad," adds Srivatsav.

Can the film mobilise people to give up their morning newspaper habit and move to digital news? "The morning newspaper is not just a habit; it's a ritual. And a ritual is as much a physical process as a mental one. Today, an iPad physically takes the shape of a book, to replace one. And honestly, I don't see myself sitting in front of a desktop or a laptop in the morning with my coffee. Maybe, eventually, the news will be delivered through a mobile device like a tablet, but I don't see newsprint disappearing too soon," he asserts.

Though he appreciates the jingle in the ad, Srivatsav says about the execution, "I fundamentally like ads without a VO (voiceover), but it's just not tremendously memorable."

Suresh Mohankumar, national planning head, Dentsu Communications, says that eco-consciousness is too weak a weapon in India to break the habit-cum-ritual of reading the morning newspaper and that tying down the brand's fortunes to India's eco-consciousness is a bet that may not pay off.

"Moreover, every reputed daily in the country has its own iPhone, iPad and Android app. News gets updated by the minute and print has met digital through apps. The question that a news daily (digital or print) needs to answer is one of credentials and point of view. It is not always about 'fresh' or 'timely'," he elaborates.

Well, can digital dailies replace print dailies as far as gathering one's daily dose of news is concerned? "Dailies are as much a habit as the morning cup of tea. Online daily news cannot replace print in the foreseeable future," declares Mohankumar.