Sunit Roy

Hindustan Times stakes claim to Mumbai in 3-film campaign

We spoke to Rajan Bhalla, group CMO, HT Media, about the effort.

Hindustan Times has rolled out a campaign through which it celebrates the spirit of Mumbai - talking about nostalgia, the qualities of the metropolis and how the city accepts everyone while preserving a distinct culture of its own.

Titled 'Mumbai Meri Hai', the campaign aims at building an emotional connect with Mumbai and the Mumbaikars while emphasising on the fact that today, HT gets Mumbai better than others.

Hindustan Times stakes claim to Mumbai in 3-film campaign
Conceptualised by RK Swamy BBDO, the campaign consists of three films which celebrate Bollywood, cricket and Irani cafes that are prevalent in the city. The first film, 'Bollywood', features a girl singing a song about the actors and their stardom, while the second film ,'Cricket', starts with a youngster playing gully cricket and progresses to the stadium as a Marathi song is played. The third film, 'Irani Cafes', depicts Mumbai's culture, and features a Parsi man singing about the famous dishes found in these cafes across the city. All the films have a common message that takes further the brand's proposition, 'This is Mumbai. It accepts us all. HT gets Mumbai'.
Hindustan Times stakes claim to Mumbai in 3-film campaign
Seen as a Delhi paper at the time of launch, HT has been relentlessly working towards helping address the issues faced by Mumbaikars through its strong and credible editorial and host of on-ground activations. In the past few years, HT has taken up various issues such as traffic through its
campaign and has also launched the 'Clean Mumbai' campaign. It has also launched initiatives such as
, 'HT Most Stylish' and the HT Scholarship Program for kids, 'HT Paathshala', to help educate unprivileged children.
Hindustan Times stakes claim to Mumbai in 3-film campaign
So we asked Rajan Bhalla, group CMO, HT Media, 'Why did the brand plan to launch a Mumbai-specific campaign?'...
Hindustan Times stakes claim to Mumbai in 3-film campaign
Pat came the reply. "Hindustan Times has been in Mumbai for almost 12 years. It entered a market which used to be a TOI (The Times of India) monopoly and has been growing since the time it launched in Mumbai... Today, it is seen as a Mumbai paper with almost 1.5 million readers and over 900,000 solus readers," says Bhalla. "The recent research done by us clearly revealed Mumbaikars having a strong affinity for HT. This triggered us to celebrate the true spirit of Mumbai, which accepts people from all parts of the country."
Hindustan Times stakes claim to Mumbai in 3-film campaign
Elaborating further, Bhalla says, "HT is now an extremely strong brand in Mumbai, a market where other brands tried to make a dent, but failed. It is now almost 2/3rd of TOI and fast closing the gap."

In addition, HT Media also has a very strong radio presence in the city with two leading stations (Fever 104 and Radio Nasha) along with a business paper - Mint. "All this, in addition to our digital platforms, give us millions of touch points with our consumers and customers. Its our way of thanking the city for not only accepting us but making us a part of their lives," says Bhalla.

Although the films will be seen more on digital and cinema platforms, the brand did not produce them specifically for a platform.

"While we have started with Bollywood, Cricket and Irani Cafes, it's extremely hard to capture the spirit of Mumbai in just three films. We have started with two mass platforms - Bollywood and Cricket and one on a typical slice of life from Mumbai, the Irani café. Expect a lot more!" Bhalla informs.

On choosing the topics for the films, Bhalla says it's always hard to create films that connect with the consumers without many added layers. "The toughest part of creating these films was keeping them simple, touching the right emotional cord, entertaining the viewer while not losing sight of the key message... And I personally think both RK Swamy and Venus Films have done a terrific job."

Tough Competition

Hindustan Times stakes claim to Mumbai in 3-film campaign
Hindustan Times stakes claim to Mumbai in 3-film campaign
According Ayan Banik, head brand strategy, Cheil India, it's a huge, onerous task for Hindustan Times to enter the Mumbai market, which classically has been the home turf (quite literally) of the largest selling English broadsheet in the country - the Times of India (Bennett & Coleman Group). "I think the war is fought at the ground level, distribution and last mile hawker conversion, more than at a communication level. The job of communication is simply to create awareness that HT has now entered the Mumbai shores... and to that extent, the communication does justice to its task," says Banik.

The other good thing Banik says about the campaign is about its extendability and how as a city, Mumbai has so many shades and dimensions to it, that you can create refreshingly new communication around a newer facet of Mumbai. "For me, it's a pretty nice, eye-catching campaign with a very nice, hummable tune, well-packaged and presented with high eye ball grabbing quotient, which fully justifies its role in creating awareness about HT's entry into the fiefdom of its key competitor - TOI," says he.

Suman Srivastava, founder and innovation artist, Marketing Unplugged, says that the ads are well executed but he puts a question mark on the strategy adopted by the brand. "After so many years of being in Mumbai, does HT really have to tell us that it gets Mumbai? And if it does, then shouldn't it have something more insightful to say?" he asks.

"HT itself has been running the 'No TV Day' campaign for several years and I think that is a better conversation for this brand to have with its readers. This campaign looks good, but is a pretty superficial look at Mumbai and in my opinion, does nothing for brand HT," he adds.


Client: HT Media

Brand: Hindustan Times, Mumbai

Creative agency: RKSwamy BBDO

Mumbai Production house: Venus Productions

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