Good morning, it’s time to go back to bed?

Just because 96-year-old Khushwant Singh called it the “most readable daily in the world” recently, it doesn’t mean the matter is closed and beyond debate.

Far from it.

The Times of India thankfully thinks just the opposite of Singh “insofaras The Hindu is concerned” in this new TV commercial for ToI‘s three-year-old Madras edition.

With the punchline “Stuck with news that puts you to sleep?”, the TVC makes no effort to hide who, it thinks, is turning Madrasans into Kumbhakarans when the City’s landscape is changing, young achievers are setting new benchmarks, politicians are lavishly dispensing patronage, etc.

The idea, clearly, is to drive home the width and depth of ToI‘s local coverage as opposed to The Hindu‘s much-vaunted international outlook. For, in the 54th second, a close-up shot shows a sleeping giant in the arms of a policeman at a drill session holding the op-ed page of the “Mount Road Mahavishnu”.

Will conveying the opposition as sleep-inducing in “conservative” Madras work? And is getting the nerves jangling with “tactile” news the primary function of a newspaper?

Writes the adman Lakshmipathy Bhat:

“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.”

For the record, the 2011 second-quarter results of the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) in Madras shows The Hindu (average issue readership: 4.98 lakh) has two-and-a-half times the number of readers as ToI (AIR: 2 lakh readers). Deccan Chronicle has 1.38 lakh readers, and the New Indian Express has 21,000 readers.

Also, for the record, The Times of India is 173 years old; The Hindu is 133 years old.

Also read: The great grandmother of newspaper battles

Any number will do when the game is of numbers

How The Times of India entered Madurai (Market)


  1. Law of Omerta

    There is no stopping the TOI juggernaut…. The TOI group is now unbeatable in India. News is that TOI says it is.

    The Hindu is mired with the proverbial “Hindu rate of growth.”

    While rest of the Hindu society has moved forward to a 10 to 12% growth rate, the mindset at The Hindu remains mired with cobwebs of the past.

    God help the paper…..

  2. Ramamoorthy

    I am a die-hard reader of The Hindu for six decades and more. As a Madrasi, my loyalty and attachment to the Hindu are interned in my bones. I agree with the Sardar’s statement. But I am afraid The Hindu should catch up with the times. Aggressive rivals.are poaching its territory fast and it may become an also-ran in Tamil Nadu like the Congress Party.unless it shakes itself from slumber. /Ramamoorthy

  3. Mackintosh

    What does he mean by ‘Madrasan’?

  4. Krishna Kumar

    It is unfair to compare the IRS-Chennai figures of The Hindu and TOI. The Hindu is 133 years old in Chennai, TOI is hardly 2 years old.

    The Hindu was once the leading English newspaper in South India. However it is holding the lead position now only in TN and Kerala. Even in TN and Kerala , the IRS figures for The Hindu has been dropping for last few quarters.

    What is alienating The Hindu from its traditional readership is its fascination for Marxism and Islam, not its “much-vaunted international outlook”.

  5. anuj

    Hope that Times is not going to dumb down Madras news the way they have done in Mumbai with ads, ads, ads then gossip, more gossip, and if there is place available then some itsy bitsy (planted?) news. Their new trend of having a ‘Times View’ within some stories suggests that even ToI agrees no body will read (or be patient enough to locate) the edit page! Time for the marketing guys to sell space on the edit page. No doubt BCCL will go to town with its financial figures while readers take solace in the fact that ToI fetches more money from the raddiwala….

  6. Prasanna Venkatesh

    The TOI ad released about 2 months ago actually depicts what the company is and nowhere its reflecting the intended.
    They are more concerned about their presence in the market rather then putting News in the Print.
    The ad dated 03/02/2012 is a indication of the above said as The Hindu itself has not made any announcement on its CEO or other hierarchical changes!

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