Times gets gung-ho on Gujarat [Updated]

15 Jan,2014



By Shobhana Nair


The cries of ‘Kai Po Chhe’ could be heard across the streets and skies of Ahmedabad yesterday. Kites of all hues – literally – dotted the sky as Amdavadis celebrated Uttarayan. Kites are popular across the world, but no where is it a religion like it’s in Gujarat’s premier city.


But this Uttarayan – that’s yesterday (Tuesday, Jan 14) – there was reason for another form of excitement, at least amongst media circles. Two days later, on January 16 to be precise, the six million-odd populace of Ahmedabad will wake up to a new Gujarati newspaper from the Bennett, Coleman stable. Called ‘NavGujarat Samay’, the paper will complete with existing players like Gujarat Samachar, Divya Bhaskar and Sandesh which have a loyal readership. Says Suresh Balakrishnan, CEO of media agency network BPN: “It is going to be a bit challenging since it is a broadsheet though they have chosen the right market – Ahmedabad. I don’t know how successful it will be since there are intense competitors but it’s indeed good news for advertisers.”


The general belief is that Gujarat is an untapped market and hence the decision of launching a regional newspaper would only mean that the pie will get expanded. In fact, there are some who believe that there’s scope for two more regional newspapers.  Says Bharat Kapadia, Founder of ideas@bharatkapadia.com who spearheaded Divya Bhaskar at the Dainik Bhaskar group and was editor and publisher of Chitralekha: “Henry Ford was once quoted saying that ‘The market never gets saturated for a good product but it can get saturated by a bad product. That means there is a scope when you come up with a good product.”



NavGujarat Samay launched in Ahmedabad


As a part of its strategy to aggressively extend footprint in languages, The Times of India Group has launched NavGujarat Samay in Ahmedabad.  This launch comes on the heels of a slew of launches like Ei Samay in Kolkata, seven new editions of Maharashtra Times (Pune, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Nasik, Kolhapur, Jalgaon and Ahmednagar) and one new edition of NavBharat Times (Lucknow) in the last couple of years.


The paper is positioned as a new voice for a new Gujarat and focuses on the new age media, that are especially popular with the ‘under-40’ readers. For instance, it is the only Gujarati daily that launches alongwith a wide array of digital platforms – apps, a WAP site and a website (www.navgujaratsamay.com). Going forward, NavGujarat Samay will continue to engage readers via its print, digital and social media innovations and offerings.


The paper will have a strong industry, business and SME focus with a highlight being two front pages, a “first ever innovation in any daily in Gujarat, that delivers double the value for our Gujarati newspaper readers”.


Said Rahul Kansal, Executive President, The Times Group: “The Times Group is well-acknowledged as a thought leader in the English newspaper space as well as for its language brands – NavBharat Times, Maharashtra Times and Ei Samay. Now we are all geared up to achieve the same milestone in other languages as well.


Added Ranjeet Kate, Director Response, BCCL “NavGujarat Samay will provide the right platform and context for the advertisers to creatively engage the Amdavadis in their own language. With a ‘print plus’ approach and a whole lot of brand activations planned over the whole of 2014, NavGujarat Samay will usher in a new era of newspapers in Ahmedabad, that will delight the readers and advertisers like.”


The news of the launch appears to have made media agencies happy who are forever vying for prime positions for their clients at good rates. “The market size of advertising and promotions in Gujarat is Rs 3,500 crore which includes the total 360 degree activities of the clients. And hence everyone wants a prime position. This newspaper will add to our choice,” said Jalpa M Dave, Principal Consultant, View Finder, a Gujarat-based media buying agency.


Welcoming the buzz in the marketplace, Krunal Amin, CEO, Saini Production, a local media and entertainment agency said: “Publicity may not have started in a big way but people are aware because of the brand.”


There are some though who believe that the Gujarat urban market is becoming increasingly aspirational and the challenge would be to be look at growing despite a large number of readers going in for English. Mr Kapadia though feels Gujarati continues to be the dominant media, and the real challenge is about the product.”Production & distribution are not rocket science but the ultimate test is that of the brand.”


This is of course not the first time Bennett, Coleman and Co getting into the Gujarati newspaper marketing. In 1993, it launched Times of India Gujarati but the paper was shut after a couple of years. In 2006, BCCL picked up a 12 percent stake in Gujarati daily Sandesh. BCCL and the publishers of Sandesh – The Sandesh Ltd had also signed a business cooperation and arrangement agreement for cooperation in advertising sales, marketing and printing. However, sometime around December 2012, the stake was sold.


Gujarat is a value-conscious market, said an industry observer requesting anonymity. While smart subscription offers like the one NavGujarat Samay is offering will work, in the longer run what is desired is overall editorial quality and smart business strategies.  “The Times group is known for its strengths in both areas, and will use every rule in the book to ensure they outwit competition on both fronts.”


The question then is who will suffer the ‘Kai Po Chhe’ first.


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