CVL Srinivas | What makes TOI a formidable media brand

08 Nov,2013

By CVL Srinivas


The Times of India has had an amazing journey of 175 years. It occupies a very unique position in the Indian media landscape. I grew up reading The Times of India. In my later years, as a media planner and buyer I have actively dealt with the TOI group. From 2008-2010, I was an employee of the TOI group in its Private Treaties now called Brand Capital) division. Having worked in media agencies or consulted for startups for pretty much the rest of my 20-odd years in the industry, the only time I didn’t have to explain what I did for a living was when I was employed with the TOI group.


I have always admired the way TOI has built its own brands which in turn helped build some of the country’s best known brands. No matter what the purists might say about its editorial style or whacky headlines, it is a media brand that has not just moved with the times, but has often defined it. If the greatest form of flattery is imitation, then TOI surely has been the leader. Most if not all of its practices have been followed by many of its competitors.


Given the challenging times that lie ahead for print media in general and English print in particular, it will be interesting to see how TOI manages to keep its lead. The forays into language dailies and the increased thrust in digital will need to work. Given the group’s track record, there is every chance that we will see more innovation in the years to come as the transformation from a largely English dailies led media business to a more diversified media company takes place.


As an employee of the Times group, I had the good fortune of working closely with some of the finest minds in the media business. Though I had a short stint of two years, it was incredible learning, especially seeing things from the media owner side as against from the advertiser/agency side.


The first thing that struck me was the sheer scale of the business. And the many moving parts that all synchronized so well day after day as if some magical glue had them all bound together. Despite being a very large organization things seem to happen very smoothly. It has a culture that encourages great ideas, big ideas and the machinery and discipline to execute flawlessly.


For advertisers and agencies, The Times of India isn’t just a strong medium to connect with a powerful, youthful target audience, it is a media brand that adds colour, fizz and hype to a media campaign. A front page ad (or now a days the jacket) in the TOI gets a lot of attention and ends up becoming the topic of discussion for the day. The many innovations, be it in size, shape or placement of the ad, that TOI introduced have had a big role in ensuring print advertising stays relevant and top of mind. By combining digital apps with print ads, TOI is smartly riding the digital wave instead of drowning in it.


The next 10 years in our industry will be much more dramatic than the past 175. Media consumption patterns will change as will business models. I am sure TOI will not just stay relevant but shape the times.


CVL Srinivas is CEO, Group M South Asia


(For the benefit of some our journalist readers who may not be in the know, Group M is billings-wise the largest media management agency in the world. Advertisers use various media agencies some of which are part of Group M – like Mindshare and Maxus – to plan their adspends and place their ads in print/ electronic/ digital/ outdoor/ others. Group M agencies represent the interests of large advertisers like Hindustan Lever)


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