Opinion: Getting some thinking into marketing of media

There's too much at stake in media for marketing to be done for the sake of marketing

Feb 12, 2011 02:22:00 AM | Article | Anant Rangaswami

The last two decades have witnessed media products waking up to the fact that they, too, are brands, and, like all brands, they, too, need to be built.Add to this realisation is the realisation that they have oodles of inventory, inventory that they could use to build the brands.

And, spurred by The Times of India, they looked at advertising their own products differently. No more relying on amateur, ‘internal’ resources; they looked at the most talented creative resources available and paid them well to create communication.

We know a lot of what media brands have done for creatives. Agnello Dias, Santosh Padhi and Senthil virtually build their reputations on edgy work done for what was, till then, a boring product. O&M pulled out all the stops for work on STAR TV in general and KBC in particular. I could go on and on, about less impactful, but still significant, work done for other media products.

The last month has seen a veritable rash of new campaigns for newspapers. The frenzy kicked off with Hindustan Times’ ‘No TV Day’, carried on with DNA’s ‘India Positive’ and culminated in The Times of India’s ‘A day in the life of India.’

And the more I look at them, the more I wonder whether the process that led to these pieces of communication went through the rigour and process that they would have gone through had the clients been FMCG or telecom or auto clients.

For example, is there clarity on what the campaigns seek to achieve? On whether the campaigns deliver on the objectives that have been defined and set?

Similarly, where’s the brand consistency in repeated communication? While HT seems to have worried about this – and got it right (which is important when ‘external’ media such as outdoor or TV is being used), The Times of India doesn’t seem to feel this is too important. DNA, which quickly built a look and feel which was instantly recognisable, seems to have forgotten that it was once thought by them to be important.

No large-spending brand would ever forget this aspect.

When I see any piece of communication, I ask myself – what is this trying to achieve? Followed quickly by – will it do so?

So when I saw the HT communication, I tell myself, this is no big deal. All they’re trying to achieve is salience; they’re not trying to change the world by getting people to stop watching TV. They went all out to create hype and buzz and they seem to have achieved that.

When I saw the The Times of India Kala Ghoda festival campaign, I saw the same and I feel the same: that the campaign is for salience and that this objective would be met.

When I saw the DNA India Positive campaign, I tell myself that this doesn’t do too much on the salience. It is trying to change the world; at least change India. It won’t achieve that. It’s a weak slogan and doesn’t have the legs to make people rally around it.

When I saw the ‘A day in the life of India’ campaign, I tell myself that this is big; that it’ll work, but it will take time to work. That there are not so many readers who could create compelling, captivating and entertaining content – and that The Times of India will have to ‘seed’ some content – which they are, indeed doing. It will work, and it will take time. The question is, will they have the patience to continue investing in it will it does, indeed work – or prove that it could, indeed work?

There’s too much at stake in media for marketing to be done for the sake of marketing. As in any category, ads need to work for the brands to gain from the exercise.

Sadly, often, it’s the communication that lets down the product, not the other way around.