Stay ahead of the Times

Apparently, Times of India launched an attack on ‘The Hindu’ with it’s ‘Put’s you to sleep’ campaign. I am not currently in India (I am just stating that matter-of-factly. No ‘Peter’ there.), and hence hadn’t seen the campaign. I don’t know how popular of an ad(vert)(isement) it was, considering, I did not see it do any rounds on Facebook. See, these days, if something is mainstream, and worth sharing, more often than not, it ends up being shared on Facebook.

So, then apparently, in something uncharacteristic of it’s own self, and to the surprise of many, shock of some, and dismay of quite a few (‘The Hindu’ loyalists specifically.), ‘The Hindu’ launched a counter-offensive. Now, if sharing on Facebook is anything to go by, this campaign has been hugely successful. Only after this came out, did i even have the curiosity to find out how TOI had wronged ‘The Hindu’.

This is the ad that I found on YouTube,

Times of India readers may skip the following discussions, and head straight to the videos, and are advised to look at related videos on YouTube instead of reading the ensuing discussion. That should keep you occupied for a while.

Maybe, we should take a closer look at what the ad is trying to convey,

  • Someone is declaring a building open.
  • A local sports team (no points for guessing Cricket), is posing for a photo with a Shield.
  • Random wrestlers are shown.
  • There is some sort of a rally. (I am assuming)
  • Free TV’s are being given away.
  • There is a police/RSS morning drill.
  • Somebody declares open a factory.
  • Water problem is shown, with people waiting near a water lorry.

(*Not an exhaustive list, I am afraid)

And then they say, ‘Stuck with News that puts you to sleep‘ ?, followed by brisk music, followed by ‘Wake up to the Times of India

In all these a person wearing a half-shirt, and dhoti is shown sleeping. Now, I am not sure if it is supposed to be the reporter, or the reader that’s shown sleeping. First things first, are they claiming that ‘The Hindu’ is reporting on dead and boring issues like the ones mentioned above ? If yes, then how on earth could the reporter be sleeping ? If it’s the reader they are talking about, it takes some imagination I tell you – which makes one wonder – ‘Will TOI readers even get the implied meaning ?’

Secondly, if TOI claims that these are boring things to be reading about, then they have clearly made a gross mistake with that kind of a portrayal. Why would a local team winning a shield be unimportant ? Have you seen the crowds ‘Manchester United’ or ‘FC Barcelona’ attract when they play local club games ? Here in the US, the university I attend, (or for that matter any University) is crazy about the university team. So, why would it be so wrong to publish news about the community you live in ? Why would political rallies, and giving away of free TV’s be unimportant ? After all, India is going to the dogs because of it’s poor state of politics, and as a tax payer, I was very much concerned and worried even, when freebies were being given away as part of the election campaign. Are these issues unimportant ? While declaring open of factories and buildings might not be the most interesting pieces of articles, think about the employment that the factory might generate in the local community, and it certainly becomes news worthy.

Keeping the above in mind, I think it is only fair that, ‘The Hindu’ launched a counter offensive. And, did they launch a good one at that. The first advertisement that I saw, was quite remarkable, and as I was telling a friend of mine, the only question to which I did not know the answer was the last one. Not surprising, I think. 🙂 Anyway, here are the links,

This one was by far the best (IMHO), and looked very natural,

A couple of chinks in the armor though,

  • By explicitly stating that so many people read a competing news-paper, ‘The Hindu’ is kinda shooting itself in its own foot. Especially considering, it is mostly the younger generation almost seems like they are admitting to being boring. Well, I am young, and I don’t think it’s boring, but still,….
  • Couple of other things struck me, as odd – some of the answers definitely did not seem natural – especially in one of the later ad’s. Where someone is asked which band Paul McCartney was associated with – believe me, if someone knows of ‘The Doors’, they in all likelihood know about ‘The Beatles’
  • I couldn’t help but notice that girls, were portrayed slightly dumber than the guys. Well, they are all being portrayed as lacking vital knowledge, but still, I felt that it was a tad against the lassies.

Couple of other videos,

Also, read about it, and see the print ad’s here.

All said and done, I consider ‘The Hindu‘ to be a much better newspaper than. ‘The Times of India’. So much so, that I did not even want to use the names of the two newspapers in the same sentence there. (If you noticed. ;)) While, I was back in India, we always bought ‘The Hindu’ in our house. Occasionally, ‘The Indian Express’ as well. On Sundays, sometimes my dad would also get the ‘Sunday Times’, and that had pages and pages of celebrity gossip and all the other ‘light’ news items – enough to last us a week. 😀 I can’t imagine reading that daily.

P.S: The writer (yes, that would be me) has always taken a strong stand on good and serious journalism. If someone’s purpose is to entertain, rather than inform, then maybe they should try out being a VJ or a reality show host. (no dearth of those things these days) By insisting that you are a serious journalist, you are kidding yourself, and putting other journalists to shame.

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2 thoughts on “Stay ahead of the Times

  1. I completely agree. Somehow after growing up on the Hindu, TOI seemed more ‘colorful’ and that obviously led to stealing public. Yeah and Sunday Express is pretty neat. Good (and might I add, thorough) post. Maybe it gives us an idea of where this country is headed?

    1. @Vivek,

      I think the analogy here would be
      TOI:TheHindu::Fast/Junk Food:ElevenCourseMeal
      🙂
      Nobody has the time for a eleven course meal these days, unfortunately.
      P.S: Small portions of each course is recommended – otherwise, there is hardly any difference between that and having junk food.

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