Nov 27, 2008

Mktg - The Week's new positioning

Devina Joshi

Open a page of The Week and you may just find a write-up on the inconsiderate idiot who spat on your car yesterday. For the weekly magazine from the Malayala Manorama Group has revamped its positioning and now wishes to be seen as a magazine that carries news and views that, in some way or the other, “affect people”.

The Week – pitched against the likes of other general interest English magazines such as India Today and Outlook – has never really invested in its own brand campaign in a big way, despite being in circulation for around three decades. A campaign three years ago had its then agency, Draft FCB Ulka, highlighting the kind of content that The Week carries. ‘It Pays To Be Informed’ was the notion and the films were about provoking people to ask themselves whether they have a point of view on things. This was chiefly done so that The Week shed its reticent image in the face of its aggressive and sleekly positioned competitors.

“But we still weren’t able to stand out, and as we gained on circulation and readership, more needed to be done,” says Anand Mathew, senior general manager, sales, The Week.

The publication appointed Mudra DDB as its agency last year. The agency has created a TV commercial that works on the tagline, ‘More About What Affects You’. The whole idea, according to Joono Simon, executive creative director, Mudra DDB, is that while the competition highlights political stories, The Week would rather concentrate on talking about issues that make a difference to the day to day lives of people, political or otherwise.

The tone of voice is supposed to be contemporary, versatile and relevant.

The commercial, shot entirely in black and white by Manoj Pillai of Thinkpot Films, has a man out for a jog, when he spots a protest rally to save penguins (a global warming cause, with a page number at the back of one of the protesters telling the man where he will find this news in The Week). As he jogs along, he spots a laughter club meet in progress, a fashion show at the beach complete with a wardrobe malfunction and a protest march against inflation. In the last sequence, he even gets accidentally doused by a jet of water sprayed by officers in order to stop the protest.

On each of the occasions, the man finds a page number guiding him to The Week. Cut to a shot of him opening his copy of The Week, only to find himself on its cover page. ‘More About What Affects You’, concludes the ad.

On conducting research, the Mudra team found that while other magazines in the category were more skewed towards politics, The Week was broader in its content coverage. “Your life is not only about politics, why should your magazine be?” Simon says, talking of the campaign premise. This, in a sense, is about “journalism with a human touch”. The aim is also to attract new readers by re-energising the brand.

The Week is a news magazine, and in that sense, the black and white grainy look was deliberate to retain a certain distinct texture and photo-journalistic quality. The ‘page number’ element signifies that “every page of The Week affects you”, says Simon. It is supposed to signify where a reader should look to find news of relevance to him.

This isn’t the first time a media brand is trying to “affect” its consumers. In January 2007, another media brand, BBC World, rolled out its India-specific campaign, ‘What Affects The World Affects You’. While the agenda and brief for the two brands are obviously different, the endeavour for most media brands over time has been to reflect society at some level. Joono Simon, Sumitra Sengupata and Nabha Shetey created the commercial out of Mudra Kochi, while the client servicing team includes Saji Jayakumar and Mahesh Menon.

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