By Chirali Sharma:
Creating an interesting marketing campaign that is witty, funny and yet conveys its meaning just right, is quite a difficult thing.
But to be honest, I have seldom seen a company screw it up so badly that they use the completely opposite way to endorse something.
In this case, it is Times Now that recently came up with an interesting method to market the fact that there has been a positive increase in the female viewership for English news in India.
But then they released this image as both a tweet and in print ads in several newspapers that seem to be conveying the exact opposite of women empowerment.
The ad talks about how, when Bollywood and global icon Priyanka Chopra talks about her next Hollywood project (very obviously pointing towards how Chopra has made it in Hollywood all on her own and is successful there), then Priyanka Kapoor, Baweja, Jonas, Khan, Kumar, etc. watch that too.
Frankly, more than anything, this is a sick and derogatory move by Times Now to have used Priyanka Chopra’s alleged relationships as a way to market something that is about a completely unrelated topic.
Because let us not kid ourselves. It’s not that Times didn’t really know what they were doing or that it was all innocent. They knew exactly what the surnames meant and the only reason behind doing so would be to grab attention.
They also posted this campaign on their Twitter page with the caption:
Women are not just leading primetime news. They are watching it too. A Times Network initiative to create awareness about women viewership for English News. #WomenOnTop
They have not just used Priyanka Chopra, but also other famous female personalities like Sania Nehwal, Faye D’Souza and more to talk about the growing interest of women in English news.
The aim of the campaign was to represent empowered women who want to stay informed and knowledgeable about their surroundings. Through the advertisement, the channel wanted to convey how when a famous woman does something, whether it is reporting or winning a match or getting a Hollywood project, then several other women from various sectors, religions and regions, also watch it and can be inspired from it.
However, the blatant attempt to use Chopra’s personal life is just extremely hypocritical of the publication, thus defeating the entire purpose of the ad.
Surnames like Kapoor and Baweja were clearly aimed towards Priyanka Chopra’s alleged relationships with Shahid Kapoor and Harman Baweja. Jonas is extremely giving as it points directly at the rumour about her relationship with Nick Jonas.
But the worst and most shameless would be the use of Khan and Kumar that hints at the harsh rumours that went around a few years back of Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay Kumar, both married men, having a less-than-platonic relationship with Chopra.
This is such a disgraceful thing for a publication of Times Now’s stature to do, it just brings down any credibility or respect they had in the public eye.
Times Now could have just as easily used names of characters played by Chopra or any other surnames that are not related to people she was linked with. It was definitely not that difficult.
Twitter immediately responded to this disrespectful image and called out the publication for the audacity of allowing such a thing to go out in the first place.
NO idea who designs your ads, @TimesNow, @MirrorNow, @ETNOWlive — but just FYI types, this is really, really messed up on MANY levels. Especially since you're saying #WomenOnTop. Why target @priyankachopra? pic.twitter.com/uDXpblduZb
— Ananya Bhattacharya (@ananya116) June 24, 2018
Here, take a look. It’s an ad about the Times Group, printed in the Times of India. pic.twitter.com/Wp7YSj5n3l
— Meghnad Bose (@MeghnadBose93) June 25, 2018
This just goes on to show a very disturbing trend of how exactly media publications are so focused on getting views, no matter what they have to do.
Also, it clearly indicates how women in Bollywood still receive attention only because of sexist things like their breasts, men they have been with, their choice of clothes etc. Their work and success does not come into play.
One would think that after the TOI debacle with Deepika Padukone, the Times group would be more careful of what they publish, but that certainly does not seem to be the case here.
A version of this post was first published here.