And The Times of India Surely Sucks

Big campaign about completing 175 years and how it is part of the history. But if people at Times of India don’t watch it… they would soon be history (if not sacked already). The Picture is the proof.

Did Jet Airways sell it’s stake in Etihad or did Etihad buy stake in Jet Airways??

Who sold what? Or Who bought what?
Who sold what? Or Who bought what?

The Times of India sucks



So this was the big bold headline in The Times of India today (check the picture). About Invisible India. I didn’t bother reading the article. It would obviously would be about the Social Impact Awards that Times had been going to town with for past few days. But the reason I clicked the picture… Invisible India was still Invisible. Not one picture right under the headline had the Invisible India taking centrestage! (and I checked… it is supposed to be centre stage) Politicians and personalities… that’s about it. One had to probably read the article and go to the inside pages to find out more about this Invisible India. Wonder what was the point of the headline when all one gets to see is a Prime Minister who is an absolute failure.

But coming back to The Times of India and why it sucks. It has become a dumb newspaper. I have been reading this newspaper since the time I started reading newspaper and seen it go downhill. It has become a tabloid. Specially the trashy supplement called Delhi Times – Pictures and articles at times feel straight out of News of The World or whatever tabloids that exist in the west.

Sex and scandal sells.. so believes this newspaper. The language and the editorial has become banal.

Back when I started reading and later on to, I enjoyed reading The Times of India. The language used to be impeccable. It had made me fall in love with the english language. I may not still be articulate enough still but it was this newspaper that helped me improve my language skills (apart from all the books I have read – not the self-help kinds but pure unadulterated fiction).

The unfortunate part though is that… all newspapers have become like this. Probably catering to the shortening attention span of the readers which is increasingly becoming twitterized and to increase circulation they have to resort to meaningless stuff (and show statistics to the advertisers).

I actually keep my kids away from reading The Times. Don’t want to spoil their English. So Ruskin Bond, Roald Dahl, P G Wodehouse for them… along with all the other books they want to read.

Let them choose what they want to read later.. if they at all will read printed stuff a few years from now…






No 4 – All about traditional media

The following post is ranked at No 4 by me. Now I am sure there would be many who might not agree with the post or the ranking but with so much happening in media – traditional or new age – more and more I see brands trying very hard to connect with their consumers through every possible option – it can be called a 360 degree surround or it can be spreading yourself too thin… depends on what you are selling.

And the wonderful new feature from wordpress has allowed me to provide links for some more useful articles. They appear at the bottom.

It was only 3 years back I would imagine that the so called traditional media was ruling. Advertising in Print and TV was a must for any campaign. ATL (above the line) used to be the most important component of every campaign. Everything else in the so called 360 surround was BTL. It was not traditional.. it was mainstream and still is. It’s just that the reference points have changed.

Before the advent of electronic mediums, press was really the only mode of communicating with the consumer. There was of course DD but then couple of programs to build the reach and that was it. C&S opened up the choices and became the new media (or can we say non-traditional media? after all DD was traditional). As the channels kept increasing and niche(ing), frequency building was the new media. Less money but bigger continuous bang for the buck.

Radio (Vivid Bharati and SLBC) was traditional and almost extinct too till FM happened. And would Radio be called traditional media now??

Web 2.0 opened up opportunities and suddenly the whole talk is digital. Marketers and planners have embraced it as the new mantra. And pretty much treating it the same way as ‘traditional’ media. If TV was about reach and frequency at 1+, 2+, …, now its SEO, views, clicks…

Our mindset back in the days of traditional media or now in non-traditional media is the same… Driven by numbers… And the actual reason gets buried under numbers…

Media is not about numbers… it is about communities (another buzzword in the new age media). The most watched program on TV or the front page or page 3 of the newspaper were not simply about most views… They were about communities. Discussing the happening daily in a soap, or politics on front page or city news on Page 3, we formed communities. There were people who discussed the soaps and those who did not… Those who did not, watched sports, movies etc.. They also had communities… pretty much the same way we have communities now online…

And like true number crunchers, we will go ahead and start over-analyizing as to which community our brands should be part of…

Media consumers need to take off the blinkers of figures and statistics and understand the communities more deeply… Understand the reason for their existence… understand the reasons why people are part of these communities and then decide how and why a brand entering that space would not be intrusive…

All of us know how irritating the commercial breaks on TV had become (or have become)… We treat the new media in the same manner and audience would just move to the next thing that might happen and make the current hot seller digital .. traditional…

No media is traditional or non traditional, its all about understanding where my audience is and who really consumes my brand… TV would evolve too and IPTV would ensure that it moves on to internet platform or handset in the big way… Now what would it be called then? Non traditionally traditional?

Newspaper is still read with that morning cup of coffee (ok so some read it on their screen… it still is newspaper)… Upteen news channels and web surfing has not made newspapers extinct…. they have evolved and embraced the changes in the environment…

Radio is available on the internet (has been for very long).

So lets stop compartmentalizing traditional and non traditional… Its all a matter of what works for the brand in which market and for what profile of consumer and then create (not adapt) communication for that environment.

Tough Choice!

So there is this one mobile phone operator who wants us to stop using paper and start using mobile phone for everything. There is another operator who wants us to save tigers and trying the whole surround in the true new age client way to help us save.

Now I am wondering.. surely that is the not the reason for spending huge money on advertising. With talktime being sold as commodity, they are probably hoping (and praying) that the consumer’s would connect with the so called CSR idea and switch there service operator!

And I am just wondering… how does one save the tigers?? How can the this movement work? Though I do love that lil cub shown in the commercial (have not caught the whole commercial ever.. is there a line somewhere which says that what you see is just footage?)

I have been told again and again by many people that information and communication technology is responsible for 2-3% of the global greenhouse emission. Am sure the figure would probably be much higher for India (we love to talk and talk and talk…) Have not heard any service operator talking about how they save on carbon emission more while we talk more? That comes from the core of their business right?

Oh and just an aside. There is this campaign for Samsung Corby and the opening line that goes with the visual of the guy getting up in the morning is “touch and I am up” snigger snigger.. was it the creative guy’s way of getting back at the client for having dictated each word of the VO?

Coming back to the service operators and there campaigns. I think Idea Cellular is just pure getting carried away by some of their advertising from the past (which by the way was only advertising… they have done nothing at the ground level to give true meaning to the idea)

AirCel of course is flush with money… having sold their tower assets so obviously somebody in the advertising agency came up with this idea to get some of that money for their agency…

I think the point is that these ideas like most news on channels and newspapers today are only good till the allocated budgets last.. never go beyond and turn meaningful.

And no… none of these ideas would help these brands get more users coming on to their network!

Does it really matter?

So yet again media created the hype and then moved on.  The whatshisname ex cop who was the breaking news or the unbreaking news has disappeared from the pages of the newspapers and from the channels. I don’t remember his name and I bet many others also do not remember.

Shiv Sena got some mileage with all  its empty threats and helped MNIK (ever noticed that most of Karan Johar movies get into these short ones so quickly) enough for the producer and the investors to start thinking if they can beat 3 Idiots. Sometimes I wonder if this whole shindig about not letting the movie release was a marketing gimmick… a la Wag the Dog… Media went to town.. Kabir Bedi was pretty much saying the same things across channels. Some wierdo from Shiv Sena was fighting with him with pretty much the same language across channels… And yeah Rahul Gandhi got some great mileage too (I bet he has got some very sharp PR brain managing his perception strategy)

The whole thing about racism and attacks and killing of Indians in Australia and threatening postures by the government… seriously if they really want to protect Indians… how about protecting them first in India itself! there are worse attacks that happen on Indians in India but these attacks are more often than not two column articles on the city page or sensationalized on Aaj Tak or India TV… nobody cares

These stories and many more… they happen and disappear.. catering to the shortening attention span of people who are logged in to digital media – channels, websites, social media networks… Media moves on because we move on. We don’t have the time or the inclination to stop and ponder…

Been reading yet another book by my favorite author Mr Michael Connelly – The Scarecrow.  Jack the lead character who works with LA Times is getting pink slipped because we now consume news as and when it happens.. in real time and correspondents who are expert in uploading the story instantly are the ones who run the newspaper… The depth be damned… its all about getting the two lines in right now… Because that is all that is read. (people actually spend more time reading the status messages on facebook and twitter than reading newspaper)

Wonder how the scenario would be ummm 5 years from now… all the day’s news crammed into character lengths less than 160 characters?

I am now probably old school who likes to read and read in depth and not 160 characters. I don’t want to just read the scroll at the bottom of the screen about whats happening in the world while the images on the screen are something really meaningless… Wonder if there is anyone in the media who wants audience or readers like me? I guess not. Because they are chasing the mindsets that are driven by status messages… videos and downloads…

So nope it doesn’t really matter what me or people like me think. We have stopped being the target audience probably 5 years back…

News and lives of people have just become a snippet to be addressed and archived…

But seriously… what’s wrong with News Media???

The prices of all essential commodities are through the roof. Common man is suffering big time.

The current government is going to complete the so called 100 days (or has it already?) and what have they got to show?

The economic situation is bleak. People are still losing jobs or living in a state of disguised unemployment (working but not getting salary on time)

Corruption reigns everywhere


How can anyone be interested in a politicial party which is on death bed and waiting for the plug to be pulled?

Do the news channels seriously think that a billion plus population which is trying very hard to make a living is interested in what Brajesh Mishra said… or the book by Jaswant Singh… or the fact that he has been sacked from the party… or what Advani said or did during the Kandahar hijacking… or What Sardar Patel did or did not do in 1945????

Seriously… who cares. If anything, the only people who would really care is the current government. They must be happy that the spotlight is not on their failures to govern and deliver on the 100 days promise.

Let me give you an example of how news media has become completely blind to what is happening to the people. This example is apart from the tripe that we get to watch on TV or read in the paper.

Few days back on BBC (one of the most respected news channels), towards the end of news, a guy joins the two who were reading the news and discussing the current events. This guy gives the latest unemployment figures in England.. which by the way have gone up. A min of that… and while he is still talking about the figures… the woman anchor asks him… “So what is your favorite cocktail?”. The guy wants to complete what he is saying about the unemployment and he is again interrupted by the male anchor asking about the cocktails.. because they want to move to this competition that is happening in England somewhere about the best bar tender!!!! Wow… talk about dumbing down and being callous.

Somewhere in an effort for increased eyeballs, viewers and readers, news people have forgotten what their profession is all about… WAGs are not stories… Salman Khan interested in buying an IPL team is not a story… Harbhajan Singh in his humvee is not the story.

Get real… get accountable… make the government accountable… Terrorism is here to stay and we would never be able to combat it or control it because when dealing with fanatics is not easy… So get rid of those stories about who gets Interpol red flag or how the government was right about Hafeez or whoever… Tell me why are the prices rising and what government is doing to bring down the prices.. Tell me why my money is not enough today for even the basic essentials… question.. interrogate… grill the government.

Stop wasting your time on the inconsequentials.

Unless the news media is also part of the larger political strategy to keep the common man away from asking these pertinent questions and bombard him with trivia and make his mind numb!

Reality (Shows) dredging bottom of the barrel

So what is it with reality shows?? Are the producers so bereft of ideas that all they can think of are the shows currently on air? Every single day, across channels, there is at least one Reality(???) show happening! And then there is this huge population hungry for their 15 mins of fame… or ridicule… And if the reality show doesnt get you, then there are completely banal serials, full of tacky and garish sets where camera focuses on at least 4 different people with absolutely stupefying expression ( a response to supposedly earth shattering comment by one of the character). But let me come back to the reality shows.

Raakhi ka Swayamwar – A bunch of losers vying for attention of another loser who stays in media by being scandalous. Yet on the show, she is like holier than thou. Nothing about the show is real. Questions and comments and reactions are all forced and directed (I bet there would have been takes and retakes). What amazes me is that someone actually thought of the concept and found a sucker too (NDTV Imagine) to air it!

Then there is a show called Jungle se Bachao!… again full of “celebrities”… And I dont even know any of them, except for couple of faces I can recognize… Who decided they are celebrities? The real celebrity probably would let loose his/her pit bull on the producers if they were to venture anywhere near their house…

Sach ka Samna – a reality show where the people being interviewed bare it all (their lives and not their….. everybody cannot be Denise Richards) and I wonder why??? Why would you want the world to know about your sordid life!!! And of course given our penchant of voyeurism, there would be many glued to the sets, watching every moment… By the way, the Producer of the Program was on one of the news channels and was asked if he would go through baring it all… candid confession – He said NO! and then he actually says something to the effect that he respects the participants for going through the ordeal!!

I could go on and on… India has got talent, Boogie Woogie… each one worse than the other and yet people are participating and many others watching… Sometimes I wonder if I am not normal or the people are not normal. I guess it is the former because channels manage to get big brands to sponsor these shows too!

Now I have a very important question to ask… Any show that is canned and then aired prime time… how can it be real? The concept of reality show should be live… as it happens… without takes or retakes and without editing. Two examples for this – One is the Jim Carrey movie where everything around him is a set (that is all reality shows are) and then there is Ed TV where every moment in Ed’s life is shown as it happens. So which is one is the REAL reality show??