Archive for April 14, 2008

Ménage à trois ?

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India with tags , , , , , on April 14, 2008 by manuscrypts

And finally the battle is on. The one that most people in the media fraternity would’ve been waiting for. TOI has finally launched in Chennai, amidst a lot of fanfare, and has succesfully provoked two of its three resident English publications. More on that in a bit.

While the planning has been going on for years, I feel that TOI is late, by about 3 years, around the time that Deccan Chronicle took its baby steps outside AP. This was around the time that TOI was beginning to pull away from Deccan Herald in Bangalore and establishing itself as a clear leader. This momentum should’ve been carried on to Chennai too. From its experience in Hyderabad, TOI should’ve realised that DC is not to be taken lightly, and understood its intentions.  But then, thats water under the bridge.

What have the resident publications been upto? Indian Express has woken up just in time (thats debatable) and launched a new brand campaign, and a new look, complete with tagline – ‘100% steel, 0% gas’. While it does sound a bit like an infrastructural mutual fund, the ads per se were quite interesting, sporting a graffiti look and tabloid style provocative lines.

The Hindu, in what i believe, is a strategic faux pas as far as timing goes, has reduced its cover price from Rs.3.25 to Rs.2.50. They look to be rattled already, and that’s a wrong signal to send out, especially from the market leader. The least they could’ve done is timed this earlier so that it didn’t look like a reaction.

Deccan Chronicle has been conspicuously silent. It is inching closer to the Hindu and currently priced at 1.50. Wonder if they will revert to their old pricing, if TOI eats into their share.

From the looks of it, TOI might succeed in becoming the second paper in the Hindu households and possibly the first paper for the new entrants to the city. Exactly the situation in bangalore a while back. But Hindu is no DH, since they’ve already started supplements which are supposed to bridge the need gap, which The Hindu per se, cannot do. And thats exactly what the biggest barrier for TOI is, a habit. One that it will try to circumvent by inculcating itself as a habit to the new Chennai residents.

Chennai reminds me of Panipat. To tell you why would entail a short history lesson. The first battle of Panipat resulted in the founding of the Mughal empire. Against the massive resources of Lodhi, Babur’s guns proved to be the ace. Not dissimilar from the price war that DC unleashed on Hindu. And while Babur won, and DC is a close second, it might be just a matter of time. Those of you who have seen Jodhaa Akbar or paid attention to your history teacher (her history lessons, cheapos 🙂 ) would understand the pivotal role of the second battle. If not for a freak archer, it would’ve prevented the Mughals from establishing their empire, it changed India.  For Hindu, Chennai is home, one that has to defended at all costs. For DC, its second home, and critical to their plans of becoming the masthead of South India. For TOI, its one more significant step towards becoming the only significant player to have footprints across India. Who will blink first?

until next time, or is it fourplay?