The Economist, the premium global weekly magazine on politics, business and culture, has launched its first ever television commercial in India.
This comes as something of a surprise, as for decades, the brand’s advertising has relied mainly on outdoor media (and various innovations therein) and the occasional press ads.
In fact, according to Suprio Guha Thakurta, associate publisher, The Economist, India, the publication has hardly ever used television even globally. The closest it came to TV was in a campaign in the US, but that was a short period promotion and, hence, experimental and tactical in nature. So, it would be quite fair to say that this is The Economist’s first real tryst with TV.
Commenting on the reason for this, Thakurta tells afaqs!, “Globally, geographies have been concentrated in specific areas for The Economist. In India, we need to cover more geographies because this country is a world in itself. In this case, TV becomes the most cost effective way of reaching out to a large number of people.”
Further, Thakurta reasons that with print prices going up, it is “difficult to use print to cover the whole of India”.
Unlike some other major advertisers, The Economist will use television as a supplementary medium, while outdoor and press will continue to run the show for the brand in cities such as Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru.
Eight months ago, O&M, The Economist’s agency in India, had launched the thought, ‘Interpret the World’, using press and outdoor ads. Each ad made use of a single alphabet and showed an image next to it to denote what that alphabet could represent. For instance, the letter ‘A’ and the word ‘Addiction’ were inscribed beside the image of a credit card, implying that ‘A’ stands for addiction and credit cards symbolise the word perfectly.
Now, O&M has been given the specific brief of juxtaposing the outdoor and print campaign launched eight months ago with television, with the intent of creating awareness about the magazine in India.
The television campaign, based on the ‘Interpret the World’ theme, continues to talk of The Economist’s strength – that it is a publication meant to go beyond the obvious, with its indepth coverage and analysis.
One of the ads shows the alphabet ‘P’ for ‘Play’ on the screen, with the caricature of a boy holding what appears to be a cricket bat in his hand. Once the camera pans out, we see the boy actually posing with a mop in his hand, wiping the floor. The super reads: ‘The Economist. Interpret the World’.
Similarly, another ad shows ‘S’ for ‘Soldier’ and we see a man with a shotgun in his hand. However, on watching closely, we see a monk with a walking stick. The third ad shows ‘M’ for ‘Marriage’, while the image shows a wedding cake with images of two men on it, instead of a man and a woman as is generally the case.
While the above three are original scripts for television, the remaining three TVCs – Democracy, Tourism and War – are outdoor ideas that have been adapted to television. One could perhaps term this as “print in motion”.
“By not making use of real faces or people or locations, we have tried to bring out the simplicity of the campaign,” says Thakurta. The idea is to get consumers to question what is being portrayed on screen and spark off an intriguing debate in people’s minds.
In order to target corporates and businessmen, the mix of channels will include mainline English news channels (NDTV 24x7, CNN-IBN, Times Now and BBC) and English business channels (NDTV Profit, for instance). Lifestyle channels such as Discovery Travel and Living may also be leveraged.
The six TV ads use the trademark red and white colours that are associated with The Economist globally. The ads make use of 2D animation, which has been executed by E Suresh of Famous House of Animation.
In order to build suspense, the camera pans out so that the visual appears to be something at first, and turns out to be something different on revelation. “You’d think it was the first meaning, like ‘Play’ initially, only to find a child labourer instead,” says Sumanto Chattopadhyay, executive creative director, O&M South Asia. “In a print ad, we have to reveal everything at once, so in that sense, television has helped us create drama.”
Instead of creating typical TV ads, the print in motion concept was utilised for one simple reason – to preserve the integrity, look and feel of The Economist as a brand.
In the future, one may see some print ads converting themselves into television ones, and vice versa, reveals Chattopadhyay.
A few months ago, The Economist also launched The Economist on News X – a show on News X where The Economist shared its content. “This helped our awareness cause,” says Thakurta. In that sense, the TV campaign is the brand’s second big brush with the medium over the last few months.