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Jan 31, 2012, 08.31 AM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

Quest to change with times ushers brand battle: Hindu v TOI

Following its recent restructuring, South India's iconic newspaper The Hindu now seems to be shedding its conservative image. In fact, going by it's new ad campaign, The Hindu is taking definite steps to stay ‘ahead of the Times’ reports CNBC-TV18’s Swathi Narayanan.

Swati Narayanan, Reporter, CNBC-TV18

Following its recent restructuring, South India's iconic newspaper The Hindu now seems to be shedding its conservative image. In fact, going by it's new ad campaign, The Hindu is taking definite steps to stay ‘ahead of the Times’ reports CNBC-TV18’s Swathi Narayanan.

Times of India’s Chennai ad campaign last year went- “Stuck with news that puts you to sleep? Wake up with the Times of India.” This, many felt, was a direct dig at The Hindu.

This year, the Mahavishnu of Mount Road has come back with an apt reply.

The ad shows people blank out at current affairs questions, ending with - “What paper do you read,” and the unmistakable lip-sync that mouths- “Times of India.” The punchline follows- “Stay ahead of the times.”

This new ad campaign of The Hindu has already crossed 1 lakh hits on youtube. With ad agency O&M creating a series of such ads, the campaign is reportedly costing around Rs 7-10 crore.

Nonetheless, the new editor says the ad is not just about taking on its rivals. “In Chennai and in other southern cities, the TOI had an ad attacking The Hindu. This can be seen as an answer to that,” says Siddharth Varadarajan

editor, The Hindu. “But the issue that we are trying to point is well beyond that. It is a question of whether the readers are aware of journalism that they are consuming,” he says.

Campaigns apart, who is winning the readership battle? According to the latest Indian Readership Survey, the all India readership of TOI stands at 74.67 lakh while that of The Hindu stands at 21.69 lakh. But in the south, The Hindu is ahead at 18.30 lakh against TOI’s 10.07 lakh.

In Chennai, its biggest market, The Hindu has a readership of nearly 5.5 lakh, but the paper wants to expand further. “It is one of India's largest circulating newspapers,” says Varadarajan. “But we have not paid attention to promoting it,” he accepts. “Now in the context of the change, the more professionalised running of the paper that we are doing, we must attract more readers and we are confident that this will translate into higher readership,” he says.

Change seems to be the keyword here. First the managerial changes with N Ram stepping down and Siddharth Varadarajan taking over as editor of The Hindu, and now this campaign …something the conservative newspaper has never gone in for before. The Hindu sure is doing its best to stay ahead of the times.

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