Case Study: Advertising Strategies of The Times of India

The Times of India (TOI) is one of the leading newspapers in India. It is the largest circulated English newspaper in India. It represents the growing influence of Indian middleclass and the value of English education in the country. The Chief Manager of advertising at The Times of India was evaluating effectiveness of its campaign in building The Times of India as a national brand. Most of the advertising in the past has been functional in nature. It has concentrated on promoting Times of India as a brand with functional elements like ‘largest circulated ‘ English newspaper; most upmarket newspaper; the newspaper with a grip on future and other relevant functional attributes which are common for a newspaper. Recently they have shifted to emotional platform where the newspaper is being projected as something that chronicles the aspirations of Indians. It reflects struggle, turbulence, success and failure in an Indian’s life. He was wondering whether such an advertising campaign will help in changing the outlook of people towards the newspaper.He needs to evaluate the rationale and come up with answers to few of the questions.

India as a Nation of Newspaper Readers

There are 300 newspapers in India. The Times of India is the largest English newspaper in India and second largest English broadsheet newspaper in the world. There are more than 8 million readers who pick up TOI everyday in India. This represents a growth of almost 30% to the previous year and defies the gleaming outlook towards newspaper industry due to advent of television in India. It is the reigning king in most of the cities in India. The Times of India offers the largest reach among newspapers in socio economic categories most coveted by advertisers- sec A and sec B and eight of every ten readers belong to sec B class. It is ranked as the six best newspapers of the world. Just ten years ago this newspaper was sold only 845000 copies and today its circulation has gone well above three million copies a day. The company has followed a world war–II strategy called pincer movement strategy. It is based on twin thrust of editorial value additions and audacious pricing. More readers chose times of India because it give them more for less.

Times of India-The Newspaper Product

The Times of India as a newspaper offers a buffet of contents spread over a diverse range of interesting. From hard, political analysis to soft trend related news reports, to spiritual and metaphysical stories. News in developed and interpreted with a more local focus and an equally strong global context. There is a strong emphasis on encapsulating news in lucid info graphs and illustrations. Cartoons and caricatures are used to create humour and cheer them for the day ahead. News stories are kept short and crisp to save the reader’s time. A typical paper runs into anywhere between 24 and 32 pages and carries daily city centric life style and other supplements such as Delhi Times, Bombay Times, Kolkata Times and related supplements like Education Times (Education), Ascent (Careers) and Times Property (Real Estate). The supplements recognize the reader’s widening scope of interests. Across the main newspaper and the supplements, there is a strong emphasis on local content. Individual editions reflect the local character of their geographic region while being true to the brand philosophy to the core. In May 2002, TOI came out with a slicker launch in International standards. In 1992, with an invitational price offer, the cover price was halved and the content in the newspaper was dramatically increased. Primed up local coverage, additional pages for sports, business and entertainment with color, graphics, cartoons became the key elements of Times of India new editions. In June 2003, The TOI offered its hindi newspaper Navbharat Times (NT) with the English newspaper at a special price of Rs 75 per month. It was a great scheme as existing readers of Navbharat Times got an opportunity to read the English newspaper for only a small amount. Moreover, people could buy a package for their family. Both the newspapers have different editorial feel and frequently varying viewpoints. So the reader got a chance to have different perspective of exposure. In less than 30 days, The TOI-NT combo could move 200,000 orders. In July 2003, TOI offered its second combo offer TOI with Economic Times at the same attractive price of Rs 75 and the response was overwhelming. In early 2003, TOI in Delhi became the first newspaper to go full colour. This was in line with company’s urge to innovate and the reader’s sensitivity to style and penetration. TOI embraced technology in earnest in the whole value chain. From receipts of advertising to production of the newspaper, the company makes extensive use of technology, allowing the newspaper to interact with customers and advertisers on real time basis, coordinate the scheduling and page making functions and print and volume smoothly on a sustained basis.

The advertising campaigns can be classified as a set of unified and well planned programs in which the finger is on the pulse of the audience. The advertising campaign of TOI tries to touch every Indian’s life. They have moved from functional, circulation based advertising claims to establish an emotional chord with readers. They have used a set of emotions from hard realty to humour, from slice of life creative to those celebrate a day in an average Indian’s life. The common thread has been a distinct ‘true to India’ style, which has led to appreciations from readers and a host of awards in various advertising functions. The campaigns represent the period in which we live. The 50 years of freedom campaign launched in 1997 subtly brought out the various facets of life in India. The advertisements have highlighted the ‘Indian-ness’ in all the campaigns and reflected how TOI is a part of this great journey of Indian-ness. Now they need to move ahead and develop a campaign which can highlight their success and also build similar brand values across all the newspapers and supplements.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What factors have contributed to the success of Times of India/ What strategies they have followed in Indian market?
  2. Evaluate the advertising campaign of Times of India. What are the learning lessons from these campaigns?
  3. How the goals of integrated view of all editions can be achieved through a modified advertising campaign?
  4. Suggest an advertising campaign for Times of India covering the objectives, message and media decisions?


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