To all those Harry Potter fans who always used to wish for a newspaper that would have moving pictures in them just like “The Daily Prophet”: The day is not very far. On 20th September, 2010 The Hindu newspaper carried a next generation newspaper Ad followed suit on the next day 21st September, 2010 by The Times Of India (TOI).
On the first page of the TOI, there was a note addressed “TO OUR READERS”
The Times of India and Volkswagen have created four pages of content as part of a special media innovation. Don’t miss reading and listening to this “speaking newspaper!”.
Volkswagen is not new to innovation when it comes to Newspaper Ads. Earlier on March 8th and May 31st Volkswagen had captured readers by adding that “X – factor” to their Ads. The March 8th TOI had a car shaped hole drilled in the newspaper to promote its Volkswagen Polo and on May 31st for the promotion of Volkswagen Phaeton they had Handcrafted headlines in The Hindustan Times.
As soon as you open up the TOI newspaper dated 21st September, you would hear a Robotic voice saying
“Best in Class, German engineering is here. The New Volkswagen Vento. Build with great care and highly innovative features. Perhaps, that’s why its breaks the heart of the our engineers to watch it drive away. The New Volkswagen Vento. Crafted with so much passion, It’s hard to let it go. Volkswagen, Das Auto.”
Usually Times Of India comes in 42 Pages, but this time for the convenience of the special Ad, the paper was divided into two – A 36 Page and a separate 10 Pages supplement inside along with the usual Mumbai mirror and Economic/Maharashtra Times. It was a surprise to all Newspaper readers when they could suddenly hear a weird robotic sound as soon as they opened the 10 page supplement of TOI. Initially people couldn’t make any sense of what was being said or where the sound was coming from. So the first time when the Audio file plays, its just gibberish. Some even thought that the sound might be someone’s Mobile Phone Ringtone. As the Audio file kept repeating itself, finally people could figure out that the sound was being emanated from the back of their newspaper! Once the newspaper was folded back or they accidentally placed their hand on the sensor, the sound stopped.
It was a phenomenal leap in marketing by the Volkswagen people. Every Single reader of TOI on this day would remember the “Volkswagen Vento”. The continuous bombardment of the Audio File was good enough to imprint Volkswagen latest Car Model “Vento” in the minds of their Audience.
Newspapers Ads before this have targeted two of the senses “Sight and Touch”. This innovative leap adds another one to the list and that’s “Hearing”. This Amalgamation of senses stands out from the usual way the newspapers were being used. The E-Paper is threatening the very existence of printed newspapers. Is this innovation an example of how Printed Newspapers are fighting for survival? Well if it is, its a really good start. Another question that arises is that “Whether this combination of Vision and Hearing can be adapted to News Articles? or will it just be limited to Marketing Ads?”
There’s also a down side to this. Some people actually like to spend their Morning Newspaper time in peace. The Audio file repeating itself might just be a nuisance. People have actually tore that part of the Newspaper and peacefully continued with their daily reading venture. Few even worry that this might lead to political parties campaigning through such media. Well, they have a point.
Another notable thing in the Volkswagen Ad was its placement. The Black box which had a magnetic chip inside with a speaker and a small sensor was placed strategically where people usually hold their newspaper. This would allow the reader to place his hand on the Sensor while he surfed the rest of the paper in peace. Only when he reaches the last page would he actually have to leave the sensor and hear the Audio clipping. Genius!
Let’s talk a bit Technical Stuff. Inside the Black casing you would find a Magnetic Speaker connected to a PCB. The PCB holds two Lithium coin cells – the power source, A LDR (light dependent resistor) that acts as a sensor and a certain black blob. Well black blob is basically Chip on board technology (COB). These are extremely crude processors with lots of mask-programmable ROM for sound samples and code. It simplifies the overall process of designing and manufacturing of the final product. Other than that it has shorter interconnecting paths which improve the performance. These are also very cost-effective.
Innovation has always had its pros and cons. Maybe in the near future we might have miniature “Press to Hear” buttons besides every headline, which when pressed would read the complete article? or say a button after the end of every Para?
Here’s a link to a Youtube Clipping for this newspaper Ad. posted by a user “TejasNair”