Ananya Pathak
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The Times of India reclaims its romance with the morning cuppa

We spoke to Brand TOI director Sanjeev Bhargava about the ideation and execution of the new film that has been penned by Gulzar.

“Bina akhbaar ke chai subah ki adhuri lagti hai…” (the morning tea feels incomplete without the newspaper). This is how the latest film by the leading English-language national daily The Times of India (TOI) opens. The one-minute-45-second-long video is an ode to #NewspaperMornings. It highlights the power of the printed word and its intimate relationship with its readers in shaping their mornings.

Conceptualised by Brand TOI’s creative agency Wunderman Thompson India, the ad copy of the film ‘That Morning Feeling’ has been written and narrated by lyricist and poet Gulzar.

Sharing the film on social media, Brand TOI wrote, “Newspapers don’t just bring us news and views every morning, they give us the power to create our own opinions. We have our own intimate relationship with our newspapers. Sometimes a companion with the morning ’chai’, sometimes feeding our thirst for intense debate, and sometimes a discovery of the new and unknown. The pleasure of reading a newspaper is in the intensity of the words that are printed, not its decibel.”

Commenting on the ideation of the film, Brand TOI director Sanjeev Bhargava told afaqs! that the brand felt the need to connect with the readers on an emotional level to rekindle the charm of reading a newspaper that might have been disrupted due to the COVID pandemic. “Newspapers are not just conveyors of news – there are a lot of sources of news. But a newspaper stands for unbiased and validated news, in addition to providing multiple perspectives,” he said.

“There is a certain charm in reading the newspaper daily, which is in the habit of many. For them, it’s like taking a vitamin capsule in the morning and then you’re done for the entire day. And this habit, which was disrupted due to distribution challenges and the scare in people due to the pandemic, needed to be brought back.”

Bhargava said that the initial brief was to romance the newspaper. And given this insight, the natural choice was to go to Gulzar. “We asked Gulzar to pen down his emotions about the newspaper. He himself prefers the printed copy over the digital ones,” said Bhargava.

Sanjeev Bhargava
Sanjeev Bhargava

When asked about the execution, Bhargava mentions, “Once the first draft of the copy was ready, we went back to the drawing board. The visual narrative of the film was then crafted out. Once that was done, some of the words of the narration were revisited to fit the narrative, by the poet himself.”

The film is targeted at the lapse reader of all age groups, “other than, of course, the daily readers,” Bhargava says.

Speaking about how the newspaper industry is recovering, Bhargava mentions that in some parts of the country, the circulation is back by up to 90 per cent, and in terms of all India, it is back by up to 70 per cent. “This, for now, is good, considering the current state of the economy. Many markets are still under lockdown, or partial lockdown, considering that the current rate of recovery is quite good. There has been so much commentary around surface to surface transmission of the virus that we are quite optimistic that the journey ahead will be smooth.”

#NewspaperMornings is a multi-platform campaign that will engage in a dialogue with TOI’s readers. The film is available on TOI’s digital and social media handles. The campaign will be further amplified across television, OTT and digital platforms.