Newspaper advertising

A newspaper brand has ironically released a TV campaign to capture popular imagination. The ad speaks about everything that is a threat to newspapers: social media, video-on-demand, low attention span, low interest in reading – a long piece that defines journalism, and yet there is a newspaper that defies all this to appeal to the cerebral. Despite all the options that have come up in the last few years, newspapers have held on to their loyal base.

Creating newspaper advertising is really challenging for the creators. If you saw the newspaper today, you would have seen tens of ads that say sale, tens of ads that have an offer, some ads that have coupons attached for you to cut out and take to retailers, many ads that showcase some building or home, ads that promise low EMI for big cars, and a collection of ads from the Government to make you pay your taxes. There is only one way to say ‘Sale’, one way to say ‘Free’, one way to say ‘More’, yet every morning we see ads saying that in more ways than one. We must salute a host of professionals who toil too hard to say the same thing in many different ways. The advertising that we see in print in everyday is far from the cerebral, therein lies the real challenge for newspaper advertising.

Real estate today drives newspaper advertising. From front page to the last, it is difficult to escape a real estate developer. They really try hard to create compelling appeals, they use cleverly rendered building images, use celebrities, use innovations to grab attention. It takes a real estate brand to tell us that Selfie is actually a square building which has high end retail and office space. That the building is anything but square is another matter. While on real estate, there is a Festival City, a market complex that has shops, fountains, a Ferris wheel and is claimed to be an architectural marvel. Residents of Delhi can now take a selfie where they work and be festive to shop, both in branded buildings.

It is often argued that today’s young consumers have no time for newspapers, they have no time to read, and to reach them, newspaper is not the medium. The amount that e-comm brands splurge on newspapers makes this argument turn on its head. Amazon, Flipkart, ShopClues, Local Baniya, Local Oye, Snapdeal, Grocery Cart, Coupon Duniya splurge on newspapers with large format and expensive innovations. Youphoria mobile phone announced launch of new bookings in newspaper ads for phone to be sold only through Amazon. Local Baniya has a double spread jacket with a step-by-step guide on how and why to shop from the app. Grocery Kart targets working couples and even depicts them in suit-tie and jacket-skirts to make the point clear. Coupon Duniya has coupons printed all over the newspaper. The whole bunch of these ads makes two things clear – young people do read newspapers and the young readers may not know how to use the app or site.

There is a whole world out there of ‘Sarkari’ ads, ads that are from another world. Till yesterday, they were means of showcasing the photographs of the minister concerned, the Supreme Court put an end to this in one swoop. Now, these ads can only carry the Prime Minister’s photo and that has freed the space for messaging. There are some good ads out there, which are a surprise, like the one done by the Ministry of Health for Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight. But for every such ad, there are many that are like wallpapers, despite their size you don’t notice them. Brace yourself for a nationwide advertising blitz by the Bihar Government and the Central Government as the Bihar elections are around. What caught my eye was the ad for the Central Board for Excise and Customs asking us to pay our service taxes on time. It has the visual of a crow dropping stones in a jar to get the water up, we all know the story, and the copy mentions a quote from Franklin D Roosevelt. How does a former president of the US find its way into an ad for taxes in India? Is it a new spin to Make in India?

Newspaper advertising is a different eco-system. It needs photoshop artists to create multi-layered pictures. It needs writers to write clever slogans, and sometimes ex-presidents to endorse the messages.

While at it, “Taste so great, grab the whole plate” from a brand of atta is definitely not the way newspaper advertising is going


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