One of the most well-received and moving sessions on the first day of the INMA (International Newsmedia Marketing Association) 4th Annual Conference, was a case study presented by Rahul Kansal, chief marketing officer, The Times of India, New Delhi and Shahrukh Hasan, group managing director, Jang Group, Karachi. The duo behind Aman Ki Asha took turns at the microphone before a packed hall at New Delhi's plush Lalit Hotel, revealing the story of the Indo-Pak peace initiative and speaking about how it was launched in the media as a regular brand.
Sticking to the day's theme, 'Redefining the Newspaper Business', Kansal began on a generic note. He noted that in the sub-continent, print media is growing, despite TV and new media. Giving a peek into the history of the Jang Group, Hasan informed, "The Jang was launched in 1939 as a four-page tabloid from Delhi that reported on war, hence the name."
The Aman Ki Asha campaign, which saw the light of day on January 1, 2010 in both countries, in a sense succeeded a campaign called Zara Sochiye ('Just Think') in Pakistan, which campaigned against the imperfections in the controversial Hudood Ordinance, an anti-women law. This gave way to Aman Ki Asha, a campaign launched to improve relations with India - an imperative for facilitating greater overall growth in Pakistan, stressed Hasan.
The campaign, Hasan told the INMA delegates, had commerce, people-to-people contacts and cultural exchanges as key drivers together with dialogue on the contentious issues.
By August 2009, it was learned that youngsters were unanimous in the belief that there needs to be an opportunity for India and Pakistan to view one another in a holistic manner. This revelation paved way for the Aman Ki Asha team in India to visit Karachi; they returned with the pleasant knowledge that tremendous levels of sincerity prevailed on either end.
"Aman Ki Asha had to be launched as a brand," said Hasan, before revealing how the name 'Aman Ki Asha' and its accompanying logo were arrived at. "After considering scores of logos from both the Times of India and Jang Group teams, we narrowed down our options to two logos - one, a product of the Indian stable and another a product of the Pakistani team. The 'winner' was determined by a vote from those present - four Pakistanis and eight Indians. We thought we would be out-voted for sure, but it was delightful that the Indians unanimously voted for the Jang Group's creation, which shows how fair they were, and how much above petty nationalism," narrated Hasan.
Even the name, 'Aman' (Urdu) and 'Asha' (Hindi), was a combination of different names coined by the TOI and Jang teams. The final name was a deliberate merger of the two, signifying all that the campaign stood for. Just like any other brand, this one too was launched with a well thought out logo, meaningful name, mission statement and a brand philosophy.
The Aman Ki Asha anthem was then conceived, with lyrics by Gulzar, a poet with deep roots in both nations. Shankar Mahadevan of India composed the music for the anthem, and sang it, along with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan of Pakistan. Amitabh Bachchan lent his voice for the narrated version.
The launch, revealed Kansal, was carried out in consultation with stakeholders of the Times Group, and politicians in power on both ends were brought on-board. "With or without government support, we were going to launch this. Interestingly, in Pakistan, support was received, amongst others, from rightist group, Jamaat-e-Islami."
Following this, the much talked about joint editorial - a first of its kind - was developed. It was a front-page joint statement, by editors of both groups. Additionally, a joint survey (with common questions) was conducted in both countries. This brought to the forefront the voice of the silent majority that is screaming for peace between the two nations.
Aman ki Asha activities include the Peace Hankies Campaign and The Tug of Peace Campaign, which were combined into a spectacular show at the Wagah Border, where handkerchiefs bearing 'peace messages' from both nations were tied in a symbolic knot. More than 200,000 school children participated in making these hankies. A Public Interaction Campaign was held at Park Towers, a popular mall in Karachi, where people signed huge banner for peace. TOI Mumbai's bureau chief Balakrishnan, who happened to be in Pakistan, also participated in this activity and was the centre of much attention, said Hasan.
Another event was Poetry for Peace, a gathering of Indian and Pakistani poets in Karachi. In Talking Peace - a conference in where editors and anchors from India were invited to meet their counterparts in Pakistan - they discussed the role of the media in worsening, instead of abating, tense Indo-Pak situations. Both sides agreed that the media does tend to fan existing tensions between the two nations and vowed to obtain the other point of view more diligently.
Other activities included Common Destiny (a strategic conference); Milne Do (A campaign against visa restrictions, lobbying for the need to make it easier for Indians and Pakistanis to acquire visas for each other's country; issues such as single-city visas were discussed); and The Water Conference in New Delhi (that addressed the issue of tensions based on water issues, concluding with an agreement that while India was not re-directing water as some in Pakistan alleged, telemetry and monitoring systems were essential).
Additionally, advertisements on the "Indo-Pak Express" were carried, in the wake of India's Bopanna and Pakistan's Qureshi teaming up for several international tournaments. Music and food festivals in key cities in both nations were a major part of this campaign too.
Kansal mused, "The campaign was based on culture, commerce and conflict resolution," adding, on a forward-looking note, "In the pipeline are events such as Love All -- an exhibition tennis match; TV exposes; a strategic seminar series; Art Across Borders; Foreign Minister Conclaves; and the London Peace Conference to be held in the spring of 2011."
Hasan concluded emotionally, "We are still waiting for a happy ending for our story."
Courtesy: afaqs! India www.afaqs.com
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Page 184 of 174
The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
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