Last morning, I wrote the post on the ET sneak peek in a hurry and a temper.
Before I reached office, I had spoken to Mindshare’s Ragothaman Gowthaman, Group M’s Vikram Sakhuja and Network 18’s Anuradha Sengupta on their views.
I tried to speak to JWT’s Colvyn Harris, but his phone was unreachable.
I reached the office, and furiously typed out the post. Minutes later, text messages, phone calls and comments on the post flowed in.
By this time, I had spoken to Colvyn Harris.
Overall, the response was one of complete and total disgust.
Shortly after, this (it’s about 10.00 am or so, if I recollect right), I spoke to The Times of India’s Bhaskar Das, who was in Delhi. I shared my concerns on the article and the impact that it could have on brand ET.
It was only a few months ago when I wrote on the changes in BCCL and their understanding of media brands in our sister title, Media, published out of Hong Kong.
"Even as recent as 10 years ago, newspapers were not on the ‘must win’ category (for advertising agencies) list in India. Most newspapers continued to create their communication in-house. After all, they had designers and they knew what they wanted to say, so where was the need for an advertising agency?
On most occasions an agency worked pro bono, being paid only for the actual expenses incurred. No fee, no commission. After all, if you had a newspaper as a client, the exposure alone was worth the trouble, was the argument.
It all changed with the changing The Times of India. Faced with competition in its strongest market, Mumbai, with the imminent launches of DNA and Hindustan Times, and with the geographic expansion of The Times of India into markets with strong incumbents, communication had to be improved significantly. And so it did."
The Economic Times brand is tarnished, even if the complainants are few. Outside of adlanders, there are few who would have noticed the piece, and fewer who would care. Yet, for people like me, it was abject and total frustration.
I need to go back a few days, to a delightful party hosted by RK SWAMY BBDO’s Shekar Swamy. It was a small party, perhaps with a guest list of less than 50. Within half an hour, the only topic of conversation was a problem faced by the AAAI in Goa (which, later, caused the change in the venue). Multiple sources suggested multiple solutions, one of which was to approach senior and respected journalists for their intervention and help.
Pradeep Guha, who surely knows a thing or two about media, the influence of media and the way media operates, rejected this approach almost out of hand. "Media is powerful with the powerless and powerless to the powerful," he said (or words to such effect).
Last morning, after reading the bilious introduction on the ‘tradition’ of leaking the winners, I felt powerless and impotent. As did, whether they admit it or not, a number of the most senior executives from adland.
There’s nothing you can do. Or is there?
A fortnight ago, I was part of a panel at St. Stanislaus, discussing various possible causes that lead children to depression and, in rare and unfortunate cases, suicide. One of the listed villains in the story was media.
Why can’t newspapers and TV channels be more careful, I was asked. Is there nothing we can do?
There is, I said. Cut off your cable connection and stop subscriptions to the newspapers you have lost respect for.
I’m stopping my subscription to The Economic Times tomorrow.
There’s not much one can do, but I'm doing all that I can.