Mumbai Mirror print, video initiative looks back to help city build future

By Sumeli Chatterjee

The Times of India

Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

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When a newspaper has the word “Mirror” in its masthead, it is both an acceptance of a responsibility and a declaration of intent. Responsibility to reflect the city in all its hues in its pages and a declaration of intent to do it without fear or favour.

Times of Indias Mumbai Mirror, the most-read tabloid in India, has not wavered from this path since its birth. Built on the foundation of fearless journalism and insightful storytelling, Mumbai Mirror has relentlessly recorded the journey of this city, its wins and its struggles, all while challenging the bad and championing the good.

We created Mumbai Mirrored as a print-linked digital series to look at our future with the perspective that the past provides. Firmly rooted in the philosophy that we cannot build a strong future unless we accept our roots and understand history, we created the #MumbaiMirrored video series to narrate the story of the making of the city through the eyes of its first citizens.

Respected octogenarians, include theatre artist Gerson da Cunha, helped tell the story of Mumbai's past.
Respected octogenarians, include theatre artist Gerson da Cunha, helped tell the story of Mumbai's past.

Narrators of the video series were respected octogenarians who have immensely contributed to the modern megacity Mumbai has become: urban planner Shirish Patel, former police commissioner Julio Ribeiro, political thinker Pushpa Bhave, theatre maverick Gerson da Cunha, and social activist JV Pawar. Leveraging the brand’s strength of fierce storytelling, the video series was created using newspaper archives of the events that shaped Mumbai, thus reflecting the real and authentic narrative of the past.

The storylines were drawn from personal experiences of the five first citizens as they recounted their lives and milestones that created the modern commercial capital from the seven independent islands. Nostalgia aside, the video series raised pertinent questions on the current state of the city and fueled debate on lessons for the future.

Creating mirrored images

Literally holding a mirror to the city, we launched the series with a micro-targeted “mirrored” newspaper. In a never-done-before print innovation, we launched a single edition with seven different front pages. Neighbours in the same building got different front pages of the same issue of newspaper. Each front page was created from a reflection of an iconic place from one of the seven islands that built the modern Mumbai.

In an innovative initiative, each edition of the Mumbai Mirror featured an iconic place from one of the seven islands that built modern Mumbai.
In an innovative initiative, each edition of the Mumbai Mirror featured an iconic place from one of the seven islands that built modern Mumbai.

Staying true to our brand name, we printed the front page as a mirror image, which meant the only way to read the front page was through an actual mirror. The inside pages detailed the series and the campaign. Aptly leveraging the name of the series, Mumbai Mirrored, the brand used mirrors and reflections as a creative device to launch the video series.

The disruptive launch intrigued readers as they posted their unique front pages on social media, making #MumbaiMirrored the trending topic of the day. The video series was widely distributed across OTT platforms, news portals, and social media. It helped rekindle memories for many and sparked curiosity in the younger population.

The print edition published a series of interviews, sketches, trivia, features, and columns to narrate the events that created modern Mumbai. A user-generated campaign facilitated reader participation by sharing their own stories and photographs.

The cover of the print edition had to be held to a mirror to read.
The cover of the print edition had to be held to a mirror to read.

While discussing our past, we raised pertinent questions for our city’ s future. Mumbai, the commercial capital, had been struggling with a fading narrative of its own existence. #MumbaiMirrored created an easily accessible tool for our readers to rewind and soak in the making of the city, and fast forward to think about a better tomorrow for the city. In sum, we successfully mirrored the past to spark future debates.

About Sumeli Chatterjee

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