The Indian Express’ soft touch to rejuvenate newspapers… but does it work?

By | June 19, 2016

On June 13 when I boarded my flight to Nagpur, I was in for a small surprise. There was Indian Express placed on the aisle seats. The surprise was short as the cover was Jet Airways proudly selling its services. And then the last two pages of the wrap had the ad from Indian Express. The ads carried CreativelandAsia’s key line.

I read and experienced Indian Express after a long time and realised I was seriously missing something. I am serious thinking of switching to the Express. Think such a good product undersold itself in the communication it carried.

First let’s take a detour to a flashback. In 2015, Indian Express ran short films titled ‘Death of a newspaper’ . They started with a bold statement. ‘First things first, the newspaper is dead’ and went on to say that the Newspaper died when people started watching the news on TV. However, Indian Express is ‘More than a newspaper’

A year later; the brand was presenting a positive side to a newspaper and sharing why it is still important- and well it has every right after the Panama Papers, the biggest investigative report in an example of multi-country journalism.

The first ad headline from Indian Express- for the Intelligent Indian was
‘Does news always
have to be breaking?
And the second read:
You heard the news last night.
But, do you know it.

Both ads were signed off with ‘Indian Express- Journalism of courage’.

Now I do appreciate Indian Express taking on and defining what and why newspaper is still the best way to have the news. Such an approach will always benefit from a collective approach from newspapers, but then we know that it is a phenomenal statement but a fantasy in current situation. I remember the initiative from teh magazine association and the recent work by outdoor association, which are far more outreaching.

The copy is good, bordering on excellence for the simplicity of the message, and if the argument has to be taken at face value. However, is that all what the newspaper is all about? Is that all that ‘Journalism of Courage’ could muster? In this tonality, I found the Mumbai Mirror campaigns had more impact.

When I read the copy and reread it, it did nothing much to me as a reader.

I present the copy of ad-I for reference. (within brackets is my reaction)


Does news always
have to be breaking?


When a child falls into an uncovered bore well it can’t be breaking news ( agreed).
It’s a heart-breaking news
(agreed and even Arnab Goswami agrees with this point of view )

When a nation of billions fails
to bring back a single gold medal
from the Olympic games it’s disappointing news

( yes, it is and maybe some time soon we all in news will be again rehashing and discussing this)
When a developing country puts a spacecraft in the Martian orbit.
It’s hopeful news

A newspaper is about pursuing news.
Getting to the bottom of it. Making sense of it.

(Agreed… don’t know where you are getting to)

It is about answering every question.
Questioning every answer.

( Yes, yes, come on, that’s something so close to climaxing- build it up)

And having it served on the breakfast table as infuriating news,
moving news, eye-opening news, reassuring news, or shaking news.

(Good and here was I thinking that news was always just news. However, I am willing to go with you on this )

It is never just about breaking news.
(One rarely gets an opportunity but yes, Indian Express still manages to break news)
It is about breaking news down.
(And yes only Indian Express does that, so much honest to the brand statement, love the interplay of words. Someone is really having fun)


TheThe Indian Express, for the Indian Intelligent
(WTF! After all that build up, a let down – almost sounded like Rashtra Praharai, guardians of the nation)
Let me present the second ad… it reads better:


You heard this news last night.
But, do you know it.


News breaks quite often these days
(Yeah, I agree, and I hate when it breaks at such a frequency)
Its pieces are hurled at us from our TV screens
(Oh no that is not the only medium)

The hastag on our Twitter feeds and trends on our Facebook.
140 characters of information, enough to feed a two-minute conversation

(Oh, oh, how simplistic is this getting and how basic )

Open your mouth and parrot it out.
Did you see? Did you hear? Did you share?

(Oh now you have taken it emotionally)

But did you read? Did you read through the pages?
Into the paragraphs, between the lines

(Now this is nit picking, oh no- who reads and why must i read)

Did you turn it n its head? Did you search for new perspectives?
And if you entered the third minute of that conversation.
Did you stutter, or did you pleasantly surprise?
Did you close and argument?
Did you open a mind?
(Oh, yes, you asked the similar questions last year too. Nothing has changed. What changed is the duration of conversations, nowadays they are rarely more than two minutes. We chat on What’sapp and share on Facebook- and there it’s cut and paste, share and be shared, like and dislike, comment and be commented on. Nevertheless, your perspective is welcome. I am not convinced if this need is satisfied only by newspapers.)

I may not be the part of Indian Intelligent. However, I question if there is a lot left unsaid in this fight of newspaper against digital and TV. Will someone stand up and take the call? Newspapers are so much more than breaking news. They are more intelligent and deeply pursue the news to its ultimate end. They give you all the points of view, create impressions, mould perceptions and understand the readers a lot better.

The question remains and here I am questioning the answer.
Is this all that the newspaper needs to do to get the non reader or lapsed readers?


Sanjeev Kotnala is founder of Intradia World; a Brand, Marketing & Management Advisory. His focus area includes Ideation and Innovation; he also conducts specialised workshops like IDEAHarvest, Liberate and InNoWait. For soft skill training, he follows SHIFT (Specific High-Intensity Frequent training), a process of continuous training with frequent shorter sessions. Email tweet @s_kotnala web: