Times of India’s #iamhyderabad brings the city together

By Sikha Sree Ram

Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd (The Times of India)

Hyderabad, Telangana, India


At a time when news media companies around the world are facing an existential crisis — losing readers to news on the Internet — the Hyderabad edition decided to launch an aggressive campaign that builds an emotional bond with the reader.

The #iamhyderabad campaign was designed to tell the people that we are as much a part of the city’s ethos as they are. To read The Times of India is to read about the quintessential Hyderabadi.

The objective was to bring out the essence of being a Hyderabadi by spotlighting aspects like the city’s unique language, its cuisine, the affable people, and its vibrant culture, among other things.

Celebrating the city

The campaign started with asking readers to give us that one word that, for them, symbolised the city of Nizams and diamonds, of pearls and Tollywood, of a language mix that can make you smile, of innovative techies, of rich Telugu literature, the vaccine capital, and a taste palate that can bite into the spiciest chilies without batting an eyelid.

Readers came back to us with more than 10,000 words like “ajooba,” “baigan,” “future-ready,” “vibrant,” “biryani,” “innovation,” etc. Apart from building an emotional connection with the readers, this initiative built a strong interactive bridge between the reader and the newspaper.

Next, we celebrated the unique language of Hyderabad by taking the words the readers had sent us, creating funny videos around them with social media influencers and asking readers to share with us ways in which they would have used the words. 

This campaign was catalysed by running a sustained advertising and editorial campaign, both in print, online, and also OOH media. 

The campaign's print strategy included both advertising and editorial content.
The campaign's print strategy included both advertising and editorial content.

The next step was to highlight many of Hyderabad’s achievements, which Hyderabadis often feel are not highlighted enough. We ran detailed reports on how Hyderabad has become a pharmaceuticals and IT hub with some of the biggest companies setting up shop here (COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin, for instance, was developed by Bharat Biotech, a Hyderabad company); how the city is creating badminton champions like P V Sindhu; how the defence industry’s key players are in the city; and how the Telugu film industry is driving India’s box office. 

Power of the people

The final leg of the campaign put the spotlight on the intangible aspects of Hyderabad — how it has among the most affable people, ready to welcome migrants in these often-parochial times.

We spoke about how various communities have made Hyderabad their home and thrived in its unique ecosystem. Bringing in a touch of humour, we did not even mind mocking the “Hyderabadi Standard Time” — it is fashionable for many to arrive late for everything, from an office meeting to a gathering of friends.

The ad campaign included a touch of humour, mocking "Hyderabadi Standard Time."
The ad campaign included a touch of humour, mocking "Hyderabadi Standard Time."

It is important to remember that the campaign #iamhyderabad is not yet over. We intend to keep connecting and involving our readers in the newspaper in innovative ways.

About Sikha Sree Ram

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