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Saturday, March 31

The strands of DNA

About a year back, two newspapers were launched in Mumbai - HT and DNA! Contrary to my initial expectations, DNA outsells HT by a good margin...I guess DNA Mumbai was amongst the most hi-profile and expensive media brand launches in 2006!

I regularly read(okay snack) both HT and DNA and have been following the brand trajectory rather keenly. My thots on brand DNA(triggered by their new campaign)in no particular order...

1. The Dainik Bhaskar group(which co-owns DNA) has perfected the art of launching newspapers in new markets after doing a huge consumer research...Full points to people-led-marketing . It works.I think it helped DNA get its initial lead over HT in Mumbai. The marketing efforts also looked sufficiently distinct from the leader TOI.

2. I sort of liked the voice-of-people tonality of the launch campaign. Of course, it helped that HT had a totally ambiguous 'Let there be light' launch campaign done by Ogilvy!

3. On any given day, I have always found more content(in an absolute sense) in DNA than HT.

4. But what's perhaps lacking in DNA is a POV, a sharper articulation of what brand DNA is...On the other hand, HT under Vir Sanghvi appears to me a newspaper brand with a balanced POV. Though ironically it's Mumbai launch was with the cover story on the scandalous Salman - Ash tapes:-)

5. I feel DNA should have worked more on the people-generated content/ brand landscape. A more approachable, a more conversational brand. Not just in content but also in tonality.
Clearly the current campaign - 'Start a Conversation' is a bit distant and cold for the brand as I carry it in my head as a reader...

Conversations with strangers/ anyone often start with a degree of hesitancy, a certain languidness and a general warmth over chai/coffee tonality...
Which this campaign with its stark images sorely lacks even as it hits you from massive hoardings in the city.

6. As a reader I have felt more comfortable with the design/lay-out of HT. It's smart, it has an even spread of content...Neither too text heavy. Nor too visually indulgent. Just the right amount of information for a quick but relaxing browse.

DNA on the other hand chokes me with information even though I admire its attempt to feed me more news every morning. Relative to HT its not easy on the senses. I would have loved a little more naturalness in the lay-out rather than a sense of contrived exactness. The DNA layout appears a bit FMCG-ised...

The models in the current ad campaign are like that. Cardboard picture-perfect-caricatures...Like the product, the brand communication could do better if it loses its stiffness...

I think in the case of DNA, its a case of the product leading the brand...And a change of agency from Rediffusion-DY&R to Contract hasn't helped much.

The brand needs to focus on its DNA, which to me the reader appears to be a strand of collaboration, conversation, cause and of course good content!!

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