Yes, I call a spade a spade and contrary to what anyone may believe, I buy my own deck of cards.
As I had imagined, the workflow and the processes that HT owns is capable of producing smart results and the Pune edition is a perfect example of this. I would imagine most of the design and pagination is being done out of Delhi to ensure perfection.
Clean, smart, uncluttered with a balanced editorial matrix. The planning was evident, carefully laid out, and well diversified complement of news and imagery that HT has managed to keep high on their priority list. They did this with Mumbai as well and now evidently taken it a step further to Pune.
For me, what was appalling was the almost knee-jerk reaction from the market leader TOI.
Why would you invite attention to a reactionary strategy (more so when you are the market leader with impressive numbers!) and place a front page notice to readers talking about the increased pagination of TOI with Mirror (incidentally distributed free, taking it back to a few years) and ET Panache brought in.
This in my opinion, isn’t sensible marketing strategy. Sure, react, but you had weeks of lead time to slip all this in. Why in the world would you do it on the day of the HT launch, when your generosity in pages and supplements are conspicuous to any reader.
That apart, the news selection was random and seemed to be just a desperate attempt to cover every single facet of Pune all at one go; far too many items, innumerable promises and an unplanned flow that resembled a crowded marketplace that the reader had to negotiate through.
If you are the leader and believe that you are in a seat of eminence then there is absolutely no need to react so childlike. I mean, why? Why does this bother you at all? Stop hyperventilating my friends; just get the paper right instead.
This almost seemed like TOI got to know of the HT launch only the day before and went all out to do whatever they could.
If you ask me, I would have liked the TOI to have a full page welcoming the HT to Pune and wished it luck, rather than all the frills that came through with the product on Saturday.
Any admission of concern/weakness in this manner is brand harakiri in my mind and consequently an open invitation to the competition to start feeding on your ecosystem.
Has HT already been classified a competitor to the TOI? All this certainly points to this and the marketing acumen of the TOI group is capable of a lot more, I would imagine. Or has the unpredictable weather of this city taken its toll here too?
I have great friends and ex-colleagues in both these brands in question and at the risk of some of them turning their face away may I add, that for now, HT is certainly a product that I would like to see every morning..
# The views expressed in this column are the Authors.
Images used for representation only
Jd also consults in Consumer Neuroscience and Neuromarketing, both of which are integral to his brand interventions.