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Gulzar gives words to the relationship we share with our daily newspapersBCCL
TOI's latest campaign celebrates the role that newspapers play in our day-to-day lives

Our latest campaign voiced by Gulzar reminds people of the charming values that the newspaper upholds: Sivakumar Sundaram, BCCL

TOI's latest campaign celebrates the role that newspapers play in our day-to-day lives
  • The Times of India's latest campaign penned and voiced by Gulzar is an ode to our intimate relationship with newspapers.
  • Sivakumar Sundaram, Chairman, Executive Committee (CEC), Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd tells us why nobody could have expressed this feeling better than Gulzar and how the organization has been taking up several initiatives to convince people about the safety of newspapers.

Newspaper readership around the globe might be on a decline but India is a country where getting your hands on your daily newspaper is almost as much a habit as is drinking your morning cuppa of chai. Despite the coronavirus lockdown hitting newspaper delivery, this is one habit that people in India will not let go of, for a long time to come.

And to give words and voice to our beautiful relationship with newspapers, the Times of India has come up with a beautiful campaign, penned and voiced by the inimitable Gulzar. Starting with the words, Bina akhbar ke chai subah ki adhuri lagti hai, the ad brings you sights and sounds of early mornings in India, which is obviously never complete without reading your morning newspapers. The campaign talks about how, without getting our hands on the newspaper, there is that feeling of void in our lives. And all of us can relate to this feeling.

We wanted to understand what went behind this campaign and why it was important to come up with the campaign. Telling us about the thought behind the campaign, Sivakumar Sundaram, Chairman, Executive Committee (CEC), Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd tells us, “In India, newspapers is not merely a provider of news, but an integral part of our everyday life. For those who share this reading habit know that a morning is never the same without a newspaper. There are many sources of news. But the fact that it curates, validates and presents news, views and analysis in a manner that a reader can consume in one read in the morning makes it unique. It prepares us for the day with the knowledge that nothing major in the world around you has escaped your attention. Newspaper reading is a ritual that promotes sharing, bonding and all of this has value in a world that forces you to rush from one thing to another. It’s an emotional bond; an intimate relationship shared between the reader and his paper.”

So why was Gulzar the right fit for this campaign? Sundaram says, “Only Gulzar could have brought alive these feelings through words and with a voice that captures the everlasting bond that has been passed on from generation to generation. This film is a tribute to this bond, this intimate relationship that unfailingly brings an inexplicable sense of saneness, security and assurance to our readers every morning after morning. In these Covid times, we felt it was time we reminded people of the charming values that the newspaper upholds. And inspire people to go back to their good habits.”

“This film is about celebrating the love that people share with the newspaper. It is a tribute to our readers and the bond they share with their morning habit,” adds Sundaram.

Newspapers are safe

In the initial days of the lockdown, there were rumors across the country that newspapers could carry the virus, which led to people cancelling their subscriptions. However, slowly people have started to realize these were just rumors and have re-started newspaper deliveries.

“The circulation of newspapers has steadily climbed up after the initial lockdown. Most readers have eagerly accepted the paperback, casting aside the false rumours regarding the safety of newspaper delivery at home. Today we are back to about 90% in key markets of our pre-Covid circulation and over 70% in most markets. As markets are opening up, we are seeing a rapidly accelerating acceptance of the newspaper,” shares Sundaram.

While this campaign touches an emotional chord with all of us who have grown up with the habit of reading newspapers, BCCL has been undertaking a lot of initiatives to bust rumors and tell people about the safety of newspapers.

Speaking about some of these initiatives, Sundaram says, “We have launched many initiatives, both at a local and national level to help readers get back their paper. Under the ‘I want my Paper’ campaign launched two months ago, we delivered information regarding the importance of a newspaper in turbulent times, rational and scientific data to prove the safety of the newspaper and creating facilities to ease the process of restarting the newspaper subscription. We have engaged housing societies through educational and awareness programs to ensure they arrive at the right decisions regarding how to conduct themselves during the epidemic. We have also engaged with the medical fraternity to ensure our readers get the most authentic information on dealing with the crisis and many such activities. The newspaper is instrumental in ensuring that this authentic information and awareness reaches its readers and keeps them safe and apprised of the facts.”