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Marketers need to re-evaluate media mix, look at credible platforms like print, says BCCL’s Sivakumar Sundaram

In an interaction with BestMediaInfo.com, Sivakumar Sundaram, Chairman of the Executive Committee of BCCL, says brands need to introspect on the mediums they choose and find an effective balance between trusted mediums like print and other platforms

Sivakumar Sundaram

With various challenges the industry is facing regarding toxic content and the TRP issue on news channels, brands have been navigating ways to ensure brand safety. Top advertisers on TV news channels such as Bajaj, Parle and Dollar have said they will pull back advertising on channels that air toxic content. In such a scenario, is it possible for brands to increase spends on other mediums like print?

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According to Sivakumar Sundaram, Chairman of the Executive Committee of BCCL, newspapers have been one of the most credible mediums for advertising and news. He says newspapers are more sought today because of the increasing menace of fake news, bots, etc.

“Newspapers have always been governed by law when it comes to reporting and has audited reports for circulation and third-party verified data for readership. The IRS has possibly the largest sample size base for any research, which is 3.27 lakh households across urban and rural.”

Speaking about how credibility over the reach on social media is a concern, he said even though social media reach can be measured, the data is provided by the platforms themselves.

“Just a few months ago, it was identified that more than 16 million influencers on a popular social media platform could be dubious. There have been multiple instances where brands worldwide have pulled out their campaigns from digital and social media for reasons ranging from lack of transparency to wrong content and context. While social media engagement can be measured, it is still the data provided by the platforms themselves. Why isn’t there a third-party verification of data? You can physically see that newspapers are being delivered. What is the guarantee that someone is watching an ad on digital? Even a kid knows which button to press to escape an ad. So, the authenticity of measurement to me is a big question mark.”

Citing a KPMG report that predicted print will grow by 57% in FY22, Sundaram said there has been month-on-month recoveries in newspaper circulation as well as revenues after the lockdown. 

“We have always had a solution-driven approach to brands and that has got accentuated multi-fold during the pandemic. Our solution-driven businesses have been growing at a healthy double-digit. We don’t sell print, we provide solutions to enable brands extract the best out of print,” he added.

Asked if in the current environment brands might also look at digital publishers, he said brands need to introspect the mediums they choose, as it also has a rub off on their brand image. “Brands are larger than life and consumers look up to them for guidance, reassurance, vision, innovation, and so on. In this context, I feel that brands will eventually draw an effective balance between trusted mediums like print and other platforms,” he said.

Sundaram said that post the lockdown, people are spending more time reading newspapers and this is good news for brands as they engage with their message for a longer time. “Festival is a crucial period for brands and they cannot risk being seen on mediums that are toxic and with questionable ethics,” he added.


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