Sanjeev Kotnala: Every effort counts, but where does #Adswelove take you?

13 Nov,2019

By Sanjeev Kotnala

Recently The Economic Times, under its popular Wednesday supplement Brand Equity started a unique monthly feature #AdsWeLove. It will recognise the best print advertising.The Times of India Group is undoubtedly the thought leader in print marketing. It has a presence in power and influencing centres of brand and marketing. #Adswelove is a small but significant step by Times of India Group. But it is hardly innovative or enough.

#Adswelove Process 

You have to appreciate it. Every effort to rejuvenate the print category and make the brands rethink its role and possibility is welcome in current times.

So, the Times of India Group will good print advertisements published in the month in its group publications. An influential jury with Malvika Mehra, Josy Paul, Raj Kumble, Paraxit Bhattacharya, Prateek Bhardwaj, Sandipan Bhattacharya, Senthil Kumar and Kainaz Karmakar as members will evaluate them. The jury will judge the ads on excellence in art, copy, and how insightful and clutter-breaking ability. The winners will be featured in Brand Equity feature #adswelove.

The feature was launched with the selected jury members going down the memory lane and picking the print creative that has impressed them.

Do We Seriously Believe In Power Of Print?

Few of the jury members are known pro-print. They have always helped print in such initiatives and programmes. However, were they really convinced and serious when they speak of things like ‘in today’s world, a print ad is the starting gun at the beginning of a race. It’s where brand action begins’ or ‘Print is not just a medium, it’s a culture’ (well said). Maybe the media teams and clients don’t know this secret, or they don’t believe in it. Otherwise, what could explain the situation print industry is in.

However, what one of the jury members shared is a tip for the brands and an excellent way to approach the print medium. Respect the intelligence of the reader. Know the constraints of the medium so well that you can tailor-make the solution. Make sure there is an event on the page.

The print owners must re-read the last tip and try concentrating for contextual position and placement of the ad. At least start with the contextual positioning of bigger ads and definitely for campaigns that are still using print for brand building and not just topical-tactical-sale-discount communication.

Let us wait for next month’s feature to see what we get. The print industry can’t keep going the nostalgia way and keep referring to Think Small, nude models wanted and such ads. Referring to the time, when print was considered strong enough for brand building.

As a reader of ET, I expect more than #Adswelove.

Readers of Brand Equity may find # Adswelove a very biased initiative. For them, Brand Equity refers to MARTech.; Marketing, advertising, research and technology. It cannot be biased to any particular media and serve the readers needs across. And hence readers of Brand Equity would want to see a similar feature on TV, Radio, OOH and Digital.

TOI should consider Inclusiveness? 

If TOI is serious in rekindling the print fire, it must cast the net wide. It should include ads published in other publications. A leader like TOI can afford to do so. Or maybe TOI still believes that good print ads only get published in TOI Group publication?

Print Power initiatives are not new.

Different print groups have tried many initiatives in the past. Few have been consistent in their approach other than just harping on their readership and circulation.

The Times of India can not be faulted on its interest and initaitives on print. It promotes print through ‘Power Of Print’ contests for Cannes and Kyoorius awards. The latest edition was recently launched  with the real brief ‘taking care of e-waste’ in association with Croma. It leads in print innovation and have time and again pushed to break new frontiers.

Dainik Bhaskar brought out Mosaic, a collection of selected contemporary print ads for some three-four years. It remained just a coffee table books.

Free Press Journal with IAA last year launched The Gutenberg Galaxy’, a coffee table book celebrating the power of press with 24 case studies and 14 articles. And coffee table books are not the solution.

Meanwhile, once the flagship event of industry ‘The Print review’ is dead. D-Code is the new favourite.

The Print Campaign contest conducted with the Abby awards and later on with Goafest is dead.

No industry event features talks on print.

Even the print owners participation in Print Publishers Abby ( Adclub / AAAI) is limitted.

Print Power needs a Category initiative.

I know, it will never happen. But you can’t stop me from thinking, wishing and dreaming. But, why can’t the big ones in Print; Dainik Jagran, DB Corp, Eenadu, Amar Ujjala, Patrika Group, Hindustan Group, Times of India group, Malayala Manorama and Hindu come together and make this as a category initiative?

Pool in resources, make it grand, take it everywhere, showcase them to every possible stakeholder through their combined strengths in print and other media. Meet all stakeholders and demonstrate possibilities. If necessary, share their inherent print knowledge to provide solutions and use every possible relevant media to reach out. The print giants must understand that they can’t depend on the power of print to rejuvenate the power of print.

Why can’t newspapers give special rates to the print campaigns they believe really demonstrate the power of print? Maybe that will push the brand owners to experiment with their media and creative agencies.

Why not have Brand Owners and media decision-makers to chose effective ads and not only creative people #adswelove? Let their semi- testimonial speak to every stakeholder and impress how the print worked for them.

The print teams must find a solution to push the brand owners apathy towards enthusiasm and engagement. In most ideal situations, the brand owners should be pushing for specific creative talents to work on their print campaign, like they do for the films and digital.

In this, ‘interested only in digital’ world, why the print category ( which is one of the significant industry sponsors events ) insist and if need buys ( yes Buys) speaking and demonstration shots.

There is wisdom in traditional knowledge.

It is said, when the market is not the priority, you sell the market potential. When the market is a priority, you sell the media. When Media is a priority, you sell medium. But when MediaMedia itself is a question- what do you sell?



Sanjeev Kotnala is a senior brand and marketing strategist consultant. He invested  17 years in advertising after graduating from IIM Ahmedabad (1987). He then spent a decade at the Dainik Bhaskar group as head of marketing before going independent. Other than consulting stints, he is an Adjunct Faculty and Senior Advisor at MICA, a proponent of Brand-I and PaRAM ( the self-enhancement process). He writes weekly on MxMIndia. His views here are personal.



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