REVIEWER: ANANT RANGASWAMI
Anant Rangaswami, editor, Campaign India, reviews the latest campaign for The Economist magazine. In a career spanning over 20 years in the media and advertising industry, Rangaswami has worked with brands such as Star TV, Sony Entertainment Television, Bennett, Coleman and Co., TBWA India and Impact magazine.
Media maven: Anant Rangaswami. Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint
The Economist campaign, Interpret the World, has ads with seemingly unrelated images. One has a baby, a tiger, and a gun. It suggests tigers are facing extinction due to the demand for their bones, used as a cure for male impotency.
What did you think of the campaign?
I can’t say I love it, but the campaign is incredibly arresting. While I’m not a big fan of layered communication, some brands have to be (layered) and make you stop and think. The Economist is one such brand, and to my mind this is one of their better campaigns, not just in India but globally. I’m sure that a lot of people won’t get it. I’m still struggling to figure out a few but it’s like the cryptic crossword I do each morning; you just have to hammer away till you figure it out. The nice thing is that they have an SMS solution, so it’s not frustrating. If they didn’t, I would be worried for the brand.
Besides The Economist, who do you think has got it right?
In the Indian context, I’ve not seen a lot of great work simply because most print media brands were monopolistic till the 1990s. Having said that, I am a great admirer of what JWT India has done for The Times of India. Right from the early “A day in the life of …” campaign, to their Chennai launch. The campaigns have only gotten spectacular over time. Once TOI started looking at their readers as consumers and themselves as a brand, there was this huge shift in thinking. Even as a client, I think TOI has learnt to get more out of their agency. So much so that the minute I hear they have a new campaign, I want to see it. I also like the latest campaign for the Hindustan Times for its simplicity. It demonstrates a simplicity in thought, in execution and is interesting to watch. I do think the paper (HT) in Mumbai has a certain freshness to it.
Get it? Ads with layered messages have potential if executed well.
With all the challenges facing the print media, what can brands do to stay relevant?
When it comes to news-based magazines, those offering analysis and opinion don’t seem to be doing badly. At every level, you have to understand and decode the brand. The advertising agency has to understand the brand and push it to the next level. Take the case of The Economist—if the agency understands the brand well, it’s still a challenge to tweak the brief. Each and every advertisement has to be approved by the editor before it is released. There is no doubt that the content has to be right.
As told to Gouri Shah