The famous war between The Hindu and TOI seems to be reducing to “I can make more mistakes than you “. Hindu’s salvo on TOI drew a lot of attention. Also drew a lot of criticism for attacking the reader of TOI rather than TOI itself. That was the first mistake in a war which is now becoming more and more ridiculous. It was strange how Hindu missed the basic tenet in advertising – Attack the competition and not the user of competition. They are the customers you are looking at winning back some time. The inconsistency in their approach between press and TV campaign is also very interesting. While the TV takes potshot at the readers of TOI, the press campaign takes a much better and positive approach. It projects the contents of Hindu to be far more important in life than some of the content which TOI focuses on. Good strategy and in good taste. But why then this inconsistency ? It only happens when the agency responsible does not understand the difference between attacking competition and attacking competition users. I am sure the brief from Hindu did not say that we dont want the readers of TOI to come to Hindu back ever. All we want is vent our spleen at the people who have left us and gone to TOI. In the process may be strengthen the loyalty of the remaining readers.
But TOI has never remained behind. It was prompt to return the favour. The first campaign of TOI which started the war at first place was possibly a good approach from a challenger and they took good potshots at the leader. But after the Hindu campaign the TOI instead of capitalizing on the obvious anger of Hindu and the mistake that they made, went on to such an esoteric explanation mode that none other than the Hindu and TOI officials would have understood. They expected the ad to communicate to the readers that the Hindu is now getting Chief Editor and Chief Executive, who have earlier been with TOI. Wow what an insight. Having got Hindu irritated to the extent of making mistake, TOI should have just egged them on to fret even more by few smart ones. Instead came the next blooper. “Information is not knowledge” ad. It almost felt like the Supreme Court had asked TOI to justify why their content is not trivial. It takes such a defensive stance that it almost gives the feeling that TOI got hit where it hurts. Why do they have to respond to the Hindu ads. They should ideally fire one more version of their first campaign, which would possibly lead Hindu to fret and fume more and possibly make more mistakes. But that did not happen.
For a person like me who reads both Hindu and TOI every morning, its wonderful entertainment. It is almost akin to two women in a catfight tearing up each other’s clothes and the public is enjoying, not the fight between the issues but the tearing of the clothes.
Its pretty even now between the the two largest papers in Chennai. And it seems like Hindu’s turn to commit the next gaffe.
For me I am enjoying, with no one giving me better reason than the other to drop one of the morning papers I read.