News channels undertake moment marketing on PM’s clarion call

Channels broadcasted special programmes in line with the nation-wide initiative

MUMBAI: News channels across genres cashed in on prime minister Narendra Modi’s clarion call to light a lamp as a collective show of resistance to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, by broadcasting special programmes or participating directly in the initiative.

On Friday, PM Modi, during his address to the nation, urged countrymen to demonstrate a collective will to fight COVID-19 by switching off all lights at home and lighting a lamp, candle or turning on the mobile phones’ flashlight on 5 April, Sunday, at around 9 pm for nine minutes.

Lighting up a lamp or candle is considered auspicious: an end of darkness. The prime minister had termed the virus as ‘darkness that engulfs us all’. And, only a collective strength will help the nation to come out of the pandemic, he said during his 11-minute message.

Almost every news channel across the genre came up with the #hashtag campaign and tried to be different from one another. The most eye-catching one was of ABP News Network’s Hindi news channel ABP News’ #9MinuteKiDiwali and #9PMDiwaliAtABP. The channel placed a timer above the bottom band on the left-hand side of the screen for nine minutes.

Times News Network’s English news channel Times Now had the same strategy, but it wasn’t about the nine minutes, but to make viewers aware as to when to participate in the event. The moment the clock struck 9:00 pm at the clock, the timer disappeared from the channel.

Moreover, the network’s news and English entertainment channels curated a special content line-up on-air and across social media, urging viewers to rise to the occasion. It was at the forefront of the event’s coverage with live programming, special guests and ground reports.

The parent channel of the group, Times Now, with #DiyaJalaoBharatJodo initiative, delivered a comprehensive coverage with live inputs reflecting the mood of the people across the nation and hosted a panel of eminent doctors, who answered the callers’ doubts and concerns about the virus.

The network’s business news channel, ET Now, rolled out the special coverage under ‘The 9 PM pledge’. And, another English news channel, Mirror Now, hosted a special show featuring Usha Uthup, Bappi Lahiri and Sonu Nigam, who cheered the viewers with their delightful music.

Similarly, Network18’s Hindi news channel News18 India also had a two-hour special programming line-up Ek Diya Desh Ke Naam. Celebrities such as yoga guru Baba Ramdev, musicians Salim Sulaiman Merchant and singer Harshdeep Kaur, among others, participated. They discussed the power of 130 crore Indian coming together and fighting for a collective cause.

To show maximum coverage of the event, the channel deployed 100 reporters across 100 cities who tried to capture the Indian spirit of camaraderie and strength amid the fight against the pandemic.

Unlike taali Bajao, thaali bajao initiative, TV Today Network kept itself low in terms of campaign and special programming. The network’s both English and Hindi news channels, India Today and Aaj Tak, had #9Baje9Minute hashtag running on TV screens just like #5Baje5Minute during Janta Curfew.

Though there wasn’t any special programming, India Today had a live chat with singer Shibani Kashyap, who sang a self-composed song on the COVID19 during those nine minutes. Aaj Tak showed visuals of people participating in the initiative along with union ministers and Bollywood celebrities.

Going a step ahead that could be termed as moment marketing, Republic Media Network’s English and Hindi news channels, Republic TV and Republic Bharat, switched off their newsroom’s light and each employee was seen holding mobile phones with the flashlight on. The group’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami anchored a live show in the dark with only his face being lit up.

Similarly, TV9 network’s Hindi, Marathi, and Gujarati news channels followed suit by switching off their newsroom’s light and making employees hold mobile phones with the flashlight on for nine minutes.

Zee Entertainment Enterprises’ all-Hindi news channels had almost the same programming with the screen divided into four equal parts, one showing anchor, other had yoga guru Baba Ramdev doing Homa at Ganga ghat, third had visuals of people holding lit up lamps and fourth were showing visuals of union ministers participating in the initiative called by the prime minister.

This is the second such event called out by Modi. An exact fortnight ago, the prime minister during one-day Janta curfew urged citizens to either clap or bang utensils (taali bajao, thaali bajao), as a tribute to the heroes who are fighting this deadly virus from the frontline. 

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