Dawn News channel, since recently, is becoming a classic case of a mismanaged brand. Many a brand has made the mistake of faltering at managing its equity. Building a brand poses many challenges but managing a brand with reasonable equity can be extremely tough as well. Measurement of brand equity is the hottest area of research in marketing and is something that the best brains in marketing worldwide are struggling with. So measurement is tricky and challenging alright. But managing a brand with high equity is no rocket science. So why is Dawn losing out on its hard earned equity at such a rapid pace?
Dawn news channel is a brand that had become an integral part of our lives for some of us in Pakistan. Dawn is the oldest and most widely read English newspaper in the country. It was founded in 1941 by none other than Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah himself. In 2007, Dawn launched the first 24 hour English news channel. Interestingly 2007 marked my return from the UK and Dawn news channel was a fresh change from PTV News and all the other local news channels. I only remembered watching BBC and CNN in Pakistan to get credible news that is presented sensibly by professional journalists. Dawn news channel offered the best mix of well-balanced local and international news. The news casters, reporters, and hosts of programs had fresh and well-groomed faces, professional attire, and amazing accents. Everything about the channel from 2007 till sometime in 2010 promised class, truthfulness, a sense of uprightness, and taste. From the news coverage to a Taste of Fusion to No Reservations by Kamiar Rokni – the channel had a consistency which few brands can dream of offering to their customers. The harshest critics of Dawn newspaper referred to it as “boring” and the same for Dawn news channel referred to it as “elitist” in comparison to Express news channel, which was launched only recently in 2009. This perception was due to the fact that it seemed to cater primarily to the well-educated, urban citizens of Pakistan. Seemingly Dawn news channel had been struggling for sponsorships and some cable operators were not even providing Dawn news to their subscribers due to limited viewership. So clearly all was not well in the house of Dawn Group of Newspapers.
Dawn’s answer to some of the problems it was facing with its brand was rather shocking. In the summer of 2010, Dawn switched its English transmission completely to Urdu – everything from the news to the programs is in Urdu now. Dawn went so far in catering to the mass market that it even changed its morning show “First Blast” to “Mast Mornings with Juggan Kazim”. The two programs are as opposite to each other as they can possibly be. Mast mornings is as frivolous as the name suggests. Personally speaking, this particular program has changed the brand personality of Dawn for the worse. The print ad of the program with Juggan Kazim doing interesting antics convinced me to see the program. This is how watching Mast Mornings became an agenda on my already overwhelming to-do list. The first program was a shocker of sorts. Juggan was dressed for a wedding with earrings to match (http://plixi.com/p/55680158). The guests were none other than Syed Noor and Sana from the local film industry. No surprise there since Juggan will be appearing in films soon. The program was good at one thing. It was clear to me that Dawn channel had changed too dramatically, too soon and definitely for the worse.