For Mamata, a British ad-venture in London

The Mamata mission to London sprang a surprise on Day One with the Bengal government taking out a half-page colour advertisement in The Daily Telegraph.

By Amit Roy and Devadeep Purohit in London
  • Published 28.07.15
Mamata Banerjee had tea, cakes and sandwiches in Buckingham Palace on Monday with Prince Andrew, who praised the chief minister as a “dynamic and energetic leader”. Mamata was accompanied by businessman Sanjiv Goenka, actor Dev and chief secretary Sanjay Mitra. During an exchange of gifts, Andrew gave Mamata a scarf. She had one of her paintings for him and another to pass on to Prime Minister David Cameron. Mamata also had some gifts for Prince William’s children, George and Charlotte.

London, July 27: The Mamata mission to London sprang a surprise on Day One with the Bengal government taking out a half-page colour advertisement in The Daily Telegraph.

Why the Tory-supporting Daily Telegraph?

To which the answer might be, well, why not The Daily Telegraph?

After all, it is the best selling among newspapers, with a circulation last month of 489,739 compared with 389,409 for The Times, 171,218 for The Guardian and 214,256 (in the UK and abroad) for the Financial Times. (There is no link between The Telegraph and The Daily Telegraph of London.)

The Bengal government has taken out an advertisement in Financial Times, too.

The Daily Telegraph ad is headed: "Welcome to business-ready Bengal." The ad says: "West Bengal is a key player in India's global positioning as a leader in business and industry. Bengal has been leading from the front. The Bengal narrative has been on the upswing under the four-year-old Mamata Banerjee administration. It has enjoyed just about the highest growth rates in India -- growth fuelled by agriculture, services, industry and MSME." MSME stands for micro, small and medium enterprises.

How much has the half-page ad cost? It certainly won't be cheap but discounts are often sought and given.

The paper's rate card says for a half-page ad, it charges £43,000 (about Rs 42.8 lakh).

The Financial Times ad would probably have got through to more potential investors, but perhaps The Daily Telegraph is a better bet if the intention is to spread the message that Bengal is ready for business and tourism.

Mamata likes to use the media to reach out to people. She had used the same strategy in Singapore - the government put an advertisement in Strait Times.

"This is a great strategy because I think the Bengal government has a lot of good stories to share," said Patricia Hewitt of the UK India Business Council.

According to her, this is the first time a chief minister from India was holding an investor road show.

At a Ficci-UKIBC meeting today, some British investors asked questions about labour unrest and the role of unions as well as availability of land for projects. There were also questions on which infrastructure projects were the priorities of the government.

Readers of The Daily Telegraph have been deprived of a photograph of Mamata, probably because of the Indian Supreme Court's restrictions on the use of pictures.

The ad reads: "A major delegation of industrialists, entrepreneurs, bureaucrats and ministers will set the ball rolling for a fruitful collaboration between Bengal and the UK in industry, culture and heritage, tourism, food processing, dairy, health and verticals."

"Verticals", a word that might baffle the average English reader, in the present context stands for specific areas where the Bengal government thinks UK companies would like to participate.

The bottom of the ad bears the legend "Bengal in London", which wouldn't be a bad name for a restaurant serving genuine Bengali cuisine. There isn't a single one among the 8,000-10,000 Indian restaurants in the UK.

Cameron letter

Mamata got a letter this morning from British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is out of the UK now. "He has congratulated us for signing over 20 MoUs during the visit, which explains that the UK-Bengal relationship is moving towards a positive direction," Mamata said.