Every audacious marketing campaign is motivated by the question, “To be loved or feared?”

“Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy, both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me”. – Michael Scott.

Everything in the world of advertising thrives on creativity. Everyone wants to be different with the design and copy in an ad. While they claim to love it, it also causes a great deal of fear.

Your idea may be fantastic but are you struggling to be heard? Are you scared of the outcome? What if it backfires? What if nobody understands the ad? Well, these are a few questions that plague every brand manager.

On the face of it, everything may seem rosy. However, the behind-the-scenes of every bold marketing campaign are far from it.

Every good idea comes with a risk and heightened emotions between a brand manager and management. You feel like you have the perfect pitch which is inviting, compelling, and will drive a lot of sales, but does the client think so too? Convincing them is a task in itself.

If the idea is out-of-the-box, shouldn’t that alone speak to its quality? It takes a lot to prove that your potentially risky idea is not risky after all.

Hurdles & Challenges faced by Marketers on the Road to Innovation

As mentioned earlier, the field of marketing is complex and challenging. Before rolling out a campaign to the public, there is a lot a marketer, brand manager, and creative team has to go through convincing a client and the media house of the viability of the idea.

  • Since an advertising firm has employees with different roles, it is important that everyone has to stay on the same page. Miscommunication can confuse. All divisions must work on the same understanding of whom to target and what the ideal messaging for that audience is.
  • A brand manager is tasked with showcasing the brand in a particular light. When doing so, consistency is of utmost importance across all media channels. A little negligence from the marketing team can hamper the reputation of the brand. Behind the scenes, a brand manager has to minimize such occurrences by ensuring everything is in place.
  • From the outside, the atmosphere in the advertising firm may look fun and exciting. However, each time a new idea is presented, there is a whole lot of negativity and rising tempers. When presenting a bold idea, a brand manager must be dedicated to the brand. Otherwise, they’ll quickly be derailed by a storm of negativity not just from the management but consumers too.

Strategies to Present a Potentially-Risky Idea to a Client

  • Show them how your idea honors their work and fits with the target group
  • Support your idea by linking it with other creative ideas that have come before
  • Show how you will verify this idea
  • Reiterate how your idea will stand out (positively)
  • Show that you’re enthusiastic, confident, and committed to your idea

Tata Salt Missing I Campaign

TATA Salt’s Bold Missing ‘I’ Ad Campaign

TATA Salt AKA “Desh ka Namak” has always taken the creative route when it comes to advertising. Whether it was their creative Chhath Puja campaign or the recent #SawaalDeshKiSehatKa campaign to educate consumers about the quality of their salt, the brand has always hit it out of the park with its creativity.

However, a recent ad campaign they ran garnered mixed responses, became a trending topic on social media, and faced some backlash too. It was a rather bold move coming from a TATA brand.

It leaves one thinking about what would have been the temperament in the room when this idea was presented.

Here it goes…

On 21st October 2020, something was amiss in The Times of India newspaper. There seemed to be a proofreading error or printing mistake. On looking closer, readers realized that the letter ‘I’ was missing from the masthead, the headline, and the whole newspaper. Every place where the letter should have been used was simply omitted.

Readers were of course really confused.

As always, people took to the microblogging site – Twitter, to discuss this so-called blunder made by a national newspaper. The news with the missing ‘I’ was so hard to comprehend.

Something like this had never happened in the history of print media. What were they thinking?

Was it an error?

Well, NO.

It wasn’t a printing mistake or proofreading error.

Instead, it was a brilliant advertisement by TATA Salt, to spread awareness about Global Iodine Deficiency Day and talk about the missing ‘I’ (Iodine) in our bodies.

While it intrigued the users and left them perplexed, some felt that such gimmicks should not be carried out by a reputed newspaper like TOI. Though the purpose behind the missing letter was revealed on the penultimate page, readers were not too happy. Some felt that the brand took this missing ‘I’ concept “too far”.

2018 TATA Salt Campaign

TATA Salt ran a similar Missing ‘I’ multi-media campaign in 2018.

But last time, the media house in association with Ogilvy got all its media partners across TV, print, and digital to make editorial changes that made the campaign a huge success.

Tata Salt Missing I Campaign

Times of India online removed the letter ‘I’ from its web and WAP sites. As far as electronic media was concerned, Republic TV joined the bandwagon by removing all the I’s for an entire day from its headlines and content. In print media, Hindustan Times removed the letter ‘I’ from the masthead as well as the entire copy on the back page, with an ad inserted in the middle of the page that reads “Is I missing from your body as well?”.

Republic TV Missing I Tata Salt

The campaign garnered 16.6 MN Impressions on digital platforms and over 6.6 Mn impressions showcasing live tweets from celebrities and influencers. Notable personalities including Harsha Bhogle and Gautam Gambhir also came in support of the campaign. The campaign trended for around 17 Hours garnering around 20K conversations, with over 85.9 Mn Impressions on social media.

Gautam Gambhir Tweet Missing I


The campaign was a huge success in 2018, however, in 2020, it received mixed reactions.

While some applauded the effort of the media house by terming it as “edgy, creative work”, others called the newspaper “disgraceful”.

A Twitter user even said “Shame on TOI, they can’t even keep I N D I A together”.

TOI missing I Tata salt 2020

One pointed out that removing both the I’s would make it NDA (National Democratic Alliance). A lot of users labeled it as “politically-driven” as well.

The Verdict

Though the intent of the advertising brand was simple – to reiterate the importance of combating iodine deficiency by consuming iodized salt, few users were offended by the way it was presented.

Imagine the pressure on the media house and brand manager who had the guts to run such a campaign. It is indeed a bold move to change the look of a newspaper that people look forward to reading every morning.

To me, the campaign was extremely creative. Have you executed an advertisement like this that is one of its kind in your career?
If you’re a brand manager, what is it that you had to go through to present a potentially-risky idea like this?
Did it work ultimately or did you have to face backlash from the client and consumers?

Please share any similar ads you’ve come across that have blown your mind away for a few minutes/days.

Recommended read: 20 Latest Traditional Media Statistics for Brands to Know in 2022

7 Marketing Strategies Brands Can Implement to Grow in 2022

Natasha Gupta

Natasha is a content writer, fashion enthusiast and connoisseur of food. Juggling between passion and profession, food and words are always on her mind. She believes in her dreams and herself. Reviewing restaurants and movies, and writing about trending topics excites her.

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