N. Shatrujeet

Economic Times ad places accent on 'prior'

Financial daily The Economic Times pitches itself as the ‘fastest source of business news’ through a new television commercial with a twist in the tale

Imagine yourself seated in front of a television set, watching any one of your regular business news capsules or business news channels. A ticker runs across the bottom of the screen, methodically highlighting the day's top business stories. Meanwhile, the lady newsreader, prim and proper in dark suit, reads out the headlines in a clipped but well-modulated voice. "…decides to invest Rs 350 crore in…"

All's fine until she pauses, raises her fingers to her lips, quickly wets a finger, brings the hand down and proceeds to read the next headline. "…shareholders have approved the takeover of…" Pause. Fingers go to lips. Lick… the next report. Pause. Finger to lips. Lick…

Can be quite an intriguing sight, this one. And this is exactly what happens in the new television commercial for financial daily, The Economic Times. Yes, now you get the idea… But remember, while watching the ad for the first time one doesn't know what this is an ad for. And that's what makes the ad so interesting to watch. After all, all you see is this outwardly genteel television newscaster - a woman to boot - crudely moistening her fingers before reading out each report. It is only towards the end of the commercial that the camera draws back a little to reveal the newsreader turning another page - of The Economic Times. ‘The power of prior knowledge,' reads the slug.

The idea of a newsreader reading out news stories from a copy of newspaper (instead of a teleprompter) came from unexpected quarters. And no, the idea was not as per any brief from the Times Group. In fact, the thought germinated during a brainstorming for a totally different client.

Manish Bhatt, associate creative director at Ambience D'Arcy, explains: "(B) Raghu and I were actually thinking about scripts for a news channel. A producer friend of ours had asked us for ideas based on ‘the fastest news channel'. We were looking at various things when we hit upon this thought. But we immediately realized that this would only suit a newspaper. However, we liked the simplicity of the idea so much, we went and shared it with Elsie (Nanji)." Nanji, vice-chairman & chief creative officer, Ambience D'Arcy, admits that she loved the idea. "What appealed to me is that the idea could be told in one simple sentence," she says.

The next step was to get a filmmaker to make the commercial. So Bhatt and Raghu sent the script across to Prasoon Pandey at Corcoise Films. "The moment I saw the three-line script they had sent, I knew there was something here, so I agreed to make the film," says Pandey. But the biggest issue - that of getting a client for the ad - still needed to be addressed. "We felt that a leading newspaper should do the ad because ‘the fastest newspaper' idea is a statement of quality and leadership," says Bhatt.

The agency knew it had a strong ally in the Times Group. After all, the ‘pee' commercial for Planet M had been the creation of Bhatt and Raghu, and Nanji too has worked on Times Group accounts in the past. The most obvious thing was to sell this as an idea for The Times of India. However, that paper already had a clear positioning - ‘The Masthead of India' - which did not blend with the ‘fastest paper' idea. Also, the advertising for The Times of India has a distinct ‘execution style', which this idea could not support.

Then the team hit upon selling the idea to The Economic Times. "ET was a better fit as the idea (‘the fastest source of business news') works very well, and the paper does not have the baggage of execution," says Bhatt. Nanji took on the responsibility of selling the idea to The Economic Times. "I took the idea across and told Arun (Arora) that my team had come out with something he might like," recounts Nanji. "He heard the idea and instantly gave a go-ahead."

One interesting aspect about the ad is the tweaking in the newspaper's slug. While ‘The power of knowledge' is The Economic Times line, in this case the word ‘prior' has been inserted before ‘knowledge'. "We were working on many possible baselines when the client suggested this one," says Nanji. "It was actually a line that they had once used randomly in the past. But it fit our concept so well."

Even in the execution, the accent is on ‘prior'. The word - in a handwritten scrawl and suitably tilted - appears on a blank screen. Seconds later, the slug ‘The power of knowledge' appears, with a small ‘insertion mark' pointing to the word ‘prior'. "I did not find the line visually very appealing, so I wanted to heighten the drama by playing on the word ‘prior'," says Pandey. "So I made the word appear a bit prior to the rest of the line, so that viewers wonder about it."

Wonder if the line is likely to become the new slug for the paper… © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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