Ranjona Banerji: Ads and Ads before you get to Page 1

22 Oct,2014

By Ranjona Banerji


I know we should have got used to it by now, but isn’t there something remarkably silly about having to wade past six or seven pages of ads before you read the front page of a newspaper? It’s almost as if the newspaper owner is saying to you, “please please don’t bother to read this. Just rush out and buy a flat or flat screen TV instead.”


It is true that I write this on the assumption that a newspaper’s first priority is to sell news and it is entirely possible that this is a daft and naive notion. After all, in the olden days, front pages of newspapers used to be a collection of tiny classifieds and when you look at them now, they provide a certain historical perspective. Today’s newspapers could be trying to do the same thing. It is not necessary to understand the times we live in or times past only through headlines like “Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and then declares war on U.S.” (The Gettysburg Address, Special War Edition). You could understand as much about the world at war and rationing from this Brylcreem ad from 1946, “Brylcreem By Jove!.. some chaps are lucky! There’s such a shortage of Brylcreem that a chap who does get a bottle is indeed in luck. When you are one of the lucky ones please make your bottle of Brylcreem last as long as possible.”


There, you have it in a nutshell. From the shortage of Brylcreem you can extrapolate to hard times which could be caused a number of things and why not war which would mean nations fighting each other and might as well be World War II.


I extrapolate from this week’s papers therefore that people are rushing out to buy many cars and white goods. However, things may not be so good because fancy stores like The Collective at the Palladium in Mumbai’s Phoenix Mills are offering “cash back” on every purchase of Rs 30,000. If people who spend Rs 30,000 on clothes and accessories need discounts, then the economy could be in better shape. I can also guess that all this shopping is because of an important festival.


Thus I can bypass the entire newspaper to get an idea of the news. Brilliant! Something to think about the next time you complain about that news channel that takes ad breaks…

So Happy Diwali and Happy Shopping!




I continue with the theme I picked up on last time and wonder more and more about the future of mainstream media. It is so possible to remain connected and aware without bothering to delve into either. I don’t know if these means a rethink by those who work in it – no, not idiotic conferences filled with management graduates with more jargon than sense but real thinking. Or, we should just ride the trend and see where it takes us? After all, the need for news remains. And the medium no longer matters so much – with due apologies to whatisname.




Ben Bradlee, 93, the editor of Washington Post who directed the Watergate coverage, died on Tuesday. He had been called the “last of lion-king newspaper editors”. As any journalist knows, there can be no great story without a great editor. Do we have any great editors left in India? Or only great brand managers?



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One response to “Ranjona Banerji: Ads and Ads before you get to Page 1”

  1. Guest says:

    One should feel happy and relieved that in these times of recession, advertisers are spending good money to buy the pages that go before the front page. Hardly touch the stack of newspapers that arrives each morning, preferring the convenience of the iPad. Difficult to be sanguine about the future of print – magazines will likely fold up before the newspapers.

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