Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Hindu plays it safe.

After agonising over the matter, till the eleventh hour, ‘The Hindu – India’s national newspaper’ seems to have decided it’s better to milk its existing equity rather than create a whole new native brand for the Tamil market.

The launch of ‘தி இந்து’ is a happy moment for Tamil Nadu but from a branding angle it’s rather unimaginative, limiting and utterly ambitionless.

The Suppans and Kuppans in the pattis and thottis of our state refer to the Hindu as the ‘Hindu paper’. Certainly not ‘Thee Indu’. Even ‘Tamil Hindu’ wouldn’t have been a bad idea. But ‘Thee Indu’ reeks of the transliteration mind-set that most North Indian brands have.

Let’s face it. ‘Thee Indu’ doesn’t sound like a patchai tamizhan brand. Neither does it sound too Peter-ish. The name falls between two stools and ends up looking like a Higgins Bhagavathar queuing up for a Dravidian fancy dress contest.

Thankfully for ‘Thee Indu’, it has an Asokan (an Ananda Vikatan veteran) helming it. That’s the silver lining really. Otherwise, the name gives an impression that ‘Thee Indu’ must be ‘The Hindu’ created with Google Tamil Translator.

My sympathies are with Asokan and team. Now they have the ‘left leaning, play it safe’ baggage of The Hindu to carry when they write with passion.

The only ones rejoicing must be competitors like Dina Thanthi, Dina Malar, Dinakaran and Dina Mani. Because they know in their heart of hearts that now they have nothing to fear. ‘Thee Indu’ is no competition.

It will remain a niche newspaper targeting Tamilians who vote for the Congress and BJP, and have Mani Ratnam, Crazy Mohan, Subramanian Swamy and other upper middle class Tamil icons as their idols. I am hoping they prove me wrong.