Amar Ujala is a 70-year-old Hindi newspaper with 19 print editions and readers across seven states in India. It has a significant global audience of more than 80 million people on its Web site and social media channels. This audience straddles demographic extremes, addressing geographies that are home to more than 20 dialects and eight religions.
Many of its readers are part of a slow migratory shift from distant rural pockets to small towns, cities, metropolitan spaces, and even across the borders — forming one of the largest diasporas of the world.
We wanted to connect with all of them.
We designed the “Samwad” campaign to employ Hindi thought leaders and influencers from politics, movies, sports, and literature and to engage both print and digital readers, as well as social consumers. Amar Ujala developed a brand positioning for Samwad — or conversation — that mirrored the audience as a global Hindi stream, while at the same time remaining connected with its own local identities.
Samwad aimed to draw this diverse audience into an online dialogue via an #Ask hashtag that would be carried forward, and amplified afterward, across all mediums and at planned events.
We sought to:
- Position Amar Ujala as a single-narrative news group across local, national, and global audiences, as well as connect these audiences around issues that are of global and local interest.
- Institute an event called Samwad, with the topic “Uttar Pradesh Ke Badalatey Aayam” (The Changing Facets of Uttar Pradesh) as the theme of the first event.
- Use the #Ask dialogue to connect all of Amar Ujala’s audiences with Hindi thought leaders and influencers.
- Drive Samwad’s global narrative across Amarujala.com, Amar Ujala’s 19 newspaper editions, Amar Ujala’s social handles, and the high-profile ground event. We also wanted to reach non-Amar Ujala audiences through partner TV and radio groups.
We carefully selected diverse speakers and guests to ensure representation of the multiple and heterogeneous groups of Hindi speakers, both offline and online. For instance, we invited the Hindi poet and political leader Kumar Vishwas, who has the largest fan following of Hindi readers online. He evoked strong participation from audiences on politics and literature alike.
Similarly, we included the then-chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav. We included Indian politician Varun Gandhi because of his work on e-governance, Amir Khan for being one of the three Khan superstars of the Hindi film world, and cricketer Virender Sehwag (now a Twitter sensation).
While the tools of engagement were important, we realised that the right mix of speakers was even more important in drawing people onto the various platforms #Ask offered. Our print ads listed both a mobile number that readers could call as well as our WhatsApp handle that could be contacted to receive a response link for engaging with #Ask.
We also created the hashtag #PravasiVideoLetters targeting the Indian diaspora, particularly from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. This was promoted on amarujala.com and its social handles, giving readers the opportunity to send in their text or video letters for Chief Minister Yadav. We selected a few letters to present to the minister and that we played live during the event.
The Indian diaspora may speak Hindi, but many can’t read the language. Samwad began with the launch of Amar Ujala TV, an interactive, browser-based TV designed for this audience.
Four selected video letters were read to the chief minister, who responded to the letters on live TV during the event. A select audience of social change-makers created a dialogue between the invited speakers and Amar Ujala’s online audience, questioning and discussing the scope of change in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state.
The post-event amplification began with double-spread, front-page coverage in the Amar Ujala newspaper. The event produced 15 explosive stories on politics, literature, sports, and society, which were published with citizen comments and responses drawn from the event, and from social media responses. This coverage was also carried online.
Nine video programmes were spun out of the event, airing on Amar Ujala TV and Facebook.
While Samwad’s reach was enormous, more important was the qualitative factor: This event managed to bring such a diverse audience together on a common stage, connected by #Ask. The aspirational local Hindi speaker could engage with the same flow of conversations as the global Hindi speaker.
Here are a few tangible numbers from Samwad:
- Total reach of 55 million (30 million print and 25 million digital) in 15 days.
- Social reach of more than 500,000 with the #Ask campaign (30,000 engagements).
- More than 6,500 text and video letters received via social media and 7,200 via Whatsapp. Four video letters were played at the event, and 15 were read as dialogue starters.
- Video views of more than two million, and promotional banner impressions of five million (0.05 CTR).
- Two-and-a-half hours of TV broadcast on Aaj Tak India’s number one news TV channel, with an estimated reach of two million.
- Eight radio slots (20 seconds each) aired on Radio Red.
- Samwad was covered live by six other digital news Web sites.
- Eight full-page and half-page ads ran in all 19 editions of Amar Ujala.
- 35 outdoor billboards were placed.
- B2B inserts in Exchange4Media, AFQs, and Best Media Info Web site garnered 200,000 impressions.
- Partners and sponsors included four regional brands, two national, and one international brand.
The real success of the event was the bridging of print, online, TV, and a ground event, transcending both geographies and media.