In 1985, Apple ran a TVC titled ‘Lemmings‘. It was meant to announce the launch of ‘Macintosh Office’. While writing about the creation of that TVC, Walter Isaacson writes in the Steve Jobs Biography:
“Lemmings” showed a dark-suited, blindfolded corporate managers marching off a cliff to their death. From the beginning, both Jobs and Sculley were uneasy. It didn’t seem as if it would convey a positive or glorious image of Apple, but instead would merely insult every manager who had bought an IBM.
The Lemmings ad crossed my mind when I saw the new campaign for the Times of India, Chennai edition. Watch the TVC here.
The objective is clearly to create dissonance among the readers of The Hindu by portraying their brand choice as boring. I feel it may make for interesting advertising but will fail to deliver the objective of getting the readers of The Hindu to switch. The character of Chennai has changed over the years with the growing IT/Services and automobile industry. For ‘new entrants’ to Chennai, TOI was an alternative to The Hindu. But for die-hard Chennai dwellers, TOI is still an outsider. Questioning their intelligence may end up being counter productive.
TOI’s image is that of a marketing-led paper which is ready to sell brand space at any cost (witness the hue & cry in Social Media about the unwieldy front page vertical ads, the take over of the entire newspaper by a brand, changing the background color of the paper to that of a brand color etc.). Add to it the needless skin-show (not just in the city supplement) even in the mainline articles, the celebrity gossip in city supplements and the prominence given to ‘Page 3 culture’ you have ‘sensationalism’ as a residual brand association.
If the alternative to sleep-inducing journalism was ‘stimulating, thought-provoking journalism’ the dig at your main competition may still have worked. But not with TOI’s current content and perceptions. What say?