Channeling The Channels

The last time a brand’s ad campaign caught your attention, which medium was it using? A conventional one like Television, Newspaper or a new emerging one like website banners, in-store communication, digital, mobile, etc? Or maybe it was a mixture of more than one? Somehow, in the past few years the number of communication channels at an advertiser’s disposal has increased. As of now, a plethora of mediums are available to an agency. But the important issue is how effective are the new emerging channels as compared to the ever-green old ones?

Print media is the oldest of the entire lot. The beginning of the usage of the print media is stated to be in the early 15th century, a time when the ad-maker was devoid of the pleasures of television, radio, internet, mobiles, etc. Print ads were the trend of the era. Posters, newsletters, brochures were some the methods of communication used. Coming back to the present day, print ads are still an integral part of a product’s promotional campaign.

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Newspaper circulations around the world have been on a rise. India’s two leading newspapers, Times of India in English and Dainik Bhaskar in Hindi have a strong reader base. According to the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) and the National Readership Survey (NRS), Times of India, in the third quarter of 2010, had a readership base of 72.54 lakhs and Dainik Bhaskar for the same period had a readership base of 134.88 lakhs. Apart from the two newspapers, there are a huge number of national as well as regional newspapers circulated across the country. This proves that there is still enormous scope for print media to be effective.

Creativity and content is important as far as print media is concerned. The most important aspect of print media is that the targeted consumer has to read and scan the ad to actually get attracted to the product. And hence the placement of this genre of advertisements is highly vital. Amul has been successful in developing the content and the placement of their print ads.

The evolution of print ads can be seen in the way Coca Cola’s various campaigns have been created. The printed ads of the initial years used printed images. The message to be communicated was also painted. As in case of Coke, sometimes, the price was also mentioned. By the 1950s, print ads started including photographs, which made it more effective. The print ads could also be related to a situation. The Coca-Cola print ads had an environment conscious image when they depicted a bottle of Coke enjoyed by a polar bear, an endangered species. Brands can also be involved in sponsoring events like how Coca Cola sponsored the 1995 Summer Olympics. The association was also depicted in the print ad as shown. The print ads for the present years are more colorful and vibrant and focus on happiness.

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The advent of advertisement via television began in the early 1940s. The first television commercial (TVC) was aired in United Stated on July 1, 1941 by watchmaker Bulova and hence began the changes in the way advertisers worked. In a TVC, there are various senses getting involved at the same time. The visuals capture the attention of the eyes, the music and the voice attracts the ears and the overall content gets the mind thinking.

Since the 1940s to the present, television is one of the most preferred modes of advertisements throughout the world. In India, post-liberalization there have been many changes in the content that is allowed to be viewed. Due to this, the TVCs have seen a phenomenal change. According to a survey done, presently around half of Indian households have a television. The television users have access to 515 channels, both national as well as regional. This gives an ad-maker a huge opportunity to communicate with the consumer.

The tone in which the message is conveyed is very important as far as a TVC is concerned. A 1950s Coke TVC (clips shown in the figure), includes a person giving details about the various features of Coke and also shows youngsters enjoying the drink. This is very informative for the viewers seeing the TVC almost when it started.

TVCs can also include the situations occurring during that time as a base. Such campaigns are used by various brands especially during festivals like Diwali as seen in Cadbury, or during times of economic slowdown, as seen in Airtel and ICICI Bank. In a country like India, TVCs can be developed in regional languages as well to communicate the message to the consumer.

Post-television, innovations in technology have given communication channels a new dimension, altogether. The world was never this close and well-informed before. Consumers are rational and look for all options in all possible areas and then decide on what they want to purchase. Usage of internet and mobile phones has given advertisers a new medium to stay connected with the consumer. Instead of waiting for the consumers to look at a print-ad or TVC, the advertisements can be sent directly to their pockets.


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This new medium can incorporate the usage of both the print ads as well as TVC. Newspapers and magazines are easily available online to the people who don’t have the time to actually buy a hard copy. Times of India Online is the most visited newspaper website in the world. In May 2009, the website had 159 million page views. Therefore, print ads can be easily accommodated without losing their sheen. Similarly, social networking sites and websites showing streaming videos give a chance to share TVCs and get public opinion. It has various advantages as well. If a product is appreciated, the word can be easily spread among the users visiting the page, i.e. viral marketing strategy. In case a product is not appreciated, suggestions can be collected from the same public forum. Using this channel cautiously is vital, as it can generate a negative publicity if the wrong word spreads. There can also be a brief about the events conducted by a product posted on the social networking sites so that the user feels more involved.

These due to the introduction of technologically advanced websites are also available to mobile users through phones. The figure shows the facebook page for Coca-Cola and the iPhone Facebook app, which is a popular mobile application these days.

The mediums discussed here are just a few of an entire sea of mediums. Hence, using these mediums effectively and developing a meaningful message will help ad-makers create an attractive ad-campaign. Advertisers can utilize these mediums either singularly or by combining a few. As the competition in every field is on the rise, agencies should identify innovative channels to communicate with the consumers; however the importance of the conventional channels should not be completely ignored. Therefore, choosing the right channel is not a process that should be taken for granted and an in-depth understanding of and every medium available is vital.

“A Creative Economy is the fuel of Magnificence”                                  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Guest Article by Adwita Pant

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