10 August 2005

Anchor-white toothpaste: On your TV channel

Pssst! Wanna buy a tube of Anchor-white toothpaste?
Two years ago, it was the turn of Hindi channels to start a merry-go-round of anchor-poaching. Aajtak's faces cropped up on Zee News, NDTV India and Doordarshan, and some moved back, and later, Channel 7 joined in. This year is the partner-swapping season for English channels. With IBN and Times Now poaching anchors from familiar grounds, it seems like a good time to be a recognisable face on TV.
But I think TV Today's Aroon Purie may soon have an I-told-you grin on his face. Aajtak made no great attempt to retain its anchors when the last battle of the faces happened and it nearly seemed they had made a mistake. Now, it may be proved right, perhaps.
Two of its old faces are back alongside the familiar red logo.
By Diwali this year, we shall probably see more old faces in new environs. CNBC has lost some well-known faces to Times Now, and NDTV is set to see some of its known faces on IBN. My hunch is that faces will become less and less associated with channel brands and that could be good news for the channels after some initial rounds of anxiety. This could lead to the "commoditisation of anchors", perhaps. The brands will become tubes and anchors the commodity toothpaste inside. Am I being pessimistic about anchors? I hope I am wrong!
This you-poach-my-anchor-and-I'll-poach-yours game may have its limits as viewers dissociate faces from logos. When the dust settles, there will be other winning formulae.
I am not going to tell you what they are.

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