Monday, April 16, 2007

Times lollies, PSU follies

Page 2 of The Economic Times today has this separate category of news briefs, under the suggestively titled head , "Response Business Associate Information" Ha, Ha. So that a reader would know that everything that appears there is paid for. As if the typical ET reader would ever know, after all the nooks and crannies ET has gone into to widen it's reader base.

Anyway, that is the way The Times Group works, and you may as well get used to it. The interesting part in the 'news articles' in this secion was that of the 10 articles featured, all were from PSU banks. Tells you something about the innocence of these bank managements when it comes to associating with a paid plug, or perhaps it's the sheer laziness, and inability of their corporate communication departments to get them featured in the regular news. Because quite frankly, news headlines like 'Corporation Bank opens 900th ATM", BOI offers Gold Coins at special rates, IDBI and IIFCL sign MOU for Joint Financing of projects, SBI Increases BPLR by 50 bps etc are headlines which wouldn't look out of place in news items on a normal day. It's a moot point whether these banks allowed themselves to be convinced that paying for this was the only way to be assured of coverage in ET.

The tragedy is that other newspaper managements, even as they hold out against dropping this low, will feel compelled to give a second look to these regular news stories, to give their own ad sales teams a chance at selling a regular ad perhaps to these sort of managements. As it is, it is difficult to read any newspaper with any news article that carries unabashed praise of a specific company or brand. A big casualty have been the regular events etc sponsored by media comoanies , which donot even find coverage in rival publications now, thanks to the obsession with charging for as many things as possible.

Incidentally, the same issue of ET has this outrageous plug for, a group company, describing it as India's no. 1, based on the most amazing interpretation of data. They claim to have more 'active' users than Naukri, even as the definition of active is diffrent for both.... Amazing chutzpah!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Times Global Village: A Sellout!

It's amazing how far the BCCL group, owners of the Times of India and other major papers and media properties like ET, radio Mirchi, Times NOW etc will go for money.

I have always admired the group for it's sheer marketing savvy, which to me is just the perfect mix of polish and aggression. But with the talent wars coming home to roost, it is not surprising that they have started making some big mistakes. The Global Village has to be the brainchild of some such new despo, eager to make his mark in the intensely competitive group.

The Times Global Village could mark the beginning of the downslide for the group. For a paper, which, till last year, made the brave gambit of openly criticising the denudation and land grab on the Yamuna river bed, to organise by far the biggest event on the same river bed, was simply breathtaking for it's sheer arrogance. And no surprises, I haven't seen a peep on the issue in their 'competitor' and covert partner in the Delhi market, HT.

If you are a straight consumer, then the Global Village has much to recommend it. Stalls from about 15 odd countries, including the Czech Republic, Pakistan, China, some Arabian countries and african nation states. Displays featuring mostly handicrafts. In fact, see it as an international version of Delhi Haat, that other project, redeemed permanently by it's miraculous existence on what used to be a filthy nullah.

So not only do you have an abundance of art and handicrafts, you have all the food you want to eat.
With two major diffrences: True to it's moniker, and the Times undoubted ability to push enough traffic with wallets towards it, you might find the Global Village just a tad more expensive than it ought to be. Including the 'street' food there.

If it is any consolation to anyone who feels for the ravaging of the Yamuna, the place is absolutely thick with flies come dusk, making eating in the open a dicey proposition, and with summers finally on, that in itself is likely to keep a sizeable part of the crowd from recommending the place further. Some people have had their apprehensions in any case. Almost 40% of the stalls are unsold.