Ritu Midha: Off with the false covers!

06 Jun,2013

By Ritu Midha


To begin with a digression, even as I have print on my mind I mentally think ‘Facebook’ alongside. Facebook has succeeded in conditioning many a mind by the simple questions it asks in its status update field. The new kid on the block – changing consumer behaviour with tiny masterstrokes! But this is just an off-the-cuff observation. On my mind at the moment – really – is print.


What is with the false covers on newspapers! Frankly, now if a newspaper lands on your doorsteps without a false cover – it, err, in a weird sense of way appears nude! Now tell me – if you are 30+, and if I ask you which was the last false newspaper cover that made you take note, and your answer is still Indya.com – Well I already rest my case!


I am sure there must be plenty of customized research proving that noticeability of products promoted on false covers is higher than that on inside pages… and more! But is RoI (whatever be the measurement) directly in proportion to the monies spent on it? Does noticeability mean higher brand recall? Is yes, then what is all this noise about contextual advertising?


One, of course, remembers a few print innovations that had nothing to do with false covers, but worked extremely well. Be it product sampling, a car promotion, first creative innovation for a soap with bubbles on the page (it has become mundane now), or experimentation with aroma!


However, these innovations are increasingly taking a back seat as the false cover syndrome takes over. So much so that on occasion, a newspaper is endowed with not one, but two false covers! If I might add, I would love to understand what spiel do sales guys give for the second false cover to be sold. As effective as the first false cover – but at 50 percent rate? Some research to prove the same would be a big help, please!


Print, at the moment, is in the danger zone. However much we shout from the rooftop, the fact remains. There is an effort on increasing reach and distribution – focus on smaller towns, and one does hope it works well for the newspaper industry.


But does it imply that run-of-the-mill advertising in newspapers (including false covers) will become far more effective? At the risk of sounding risque – one needs to check out fake ads to realize what print advertising can be all about!


It is time print woke up and smelled the coffee! And strove towards creating advertising that is far more effective!! The wow factor has to come back! Indya.com has to cease being the benchmark. The clients have to give right brief, ask right questions and push for right solutions. Let go of the false covers – return to me my newspaper, where the headlines that shocked and surprised stared at me when I picked it up. And I promise to take note of ‘noticeable’ ads in my morning newspaper and all the supplements it comes with.


Ritu Midha is a senior journalist and web strategist based in Mumbai. She is also Consulting Editor and Editor – Special Projects, MxMIndia.


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