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Achche din for brands as festive season kicks into high gear 

29, September, 2014

Aarti Chhabra, New Delhi

The festive season in India, which stretches from Onam right up to Lohri/ Pongal, sees customer spends picking up tremendously. This is the time when many brands raise the pitch and decibel level for the consumer’s attention and wallet. As in the previous years, this year too is witnessing a surge of marketing and campaign activities by brands of all hues. This year, the market seems to be in a buoyant mood, boosted by the Narendra Modi-led Government’s policies to give the economy a much-needed push.

allaboutoutdoor spoke to a cross-section of advertisers to obtain their views on the ways in which brands can make use of the out-of-home medium to maximise their sales and visibility during festive times.

Discussing the relevance of the OOH medium, Ronita Mitra, Senior VP - Brand Communication and Insights, Vodafone India shares that Vodafone actively uses OOH as a medium to create visibility for its products and services and connect with the target consumers. “The medium becomes particularly important during festive season as it allows the brand to engage with the target audience,” she adds.

Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager, South African Tourism comments, “We see OOH as an integral part of our media mix as it brings something big to the campaign that you cannot achieve through a lot of other mediums. It is perfect for creating awareness among consumers because of its widespread reach. There is constant presence of the brand across the city, which helps in making a direct impact on our target audience. Also, the high frequency traffic in cities helps us reach out to the masses and garner immense attention from consumers.”

Continuing further, Slabber says, “As part of our latest consumer outreach initiative, ‘Take Me To South Africa 2.0’, we used the medium of OOH to announce our four lucky winners. Billboards were set up outside the office of the four winners with a personalised message from Jonty Rhodes announcing that they have won a trip to South Africa with him. Amazed to see their billboards, contestants expressed immense happiness and excitement for this once-in-a-lifetime voyage to South Africa with Jonty as their personal guide. OOH is something that we believe is extremely impactful and hence is a key part of our marketing budget.”

Today, festive season marketing has moved beyond discounts and exchange offers. Marketers’ activities are also centered around mass congregation sites such as Diwali melas, Garba mandals and Ganesh and Durga Puja pandals.

Elaborating on Vodafone’s activities during Ganeshotsav across Maharashtra and Goa this year, Mitra says, “We partnered with Radio Mirchi to launch the first of its kind ‘Vodafone Mirchi Grand Ganpati Gammat’ (3G) with an aim to engage with the devotees of Lord Ganesha and add fun element to the festival. Vodafone Mirchi Grand Ganpati Gammat’ (3G) allowed individuals and societies to click a selfie with their Ganapati idol and upload it on Radio Mirchi’s Facebook page. A female Dhol Pathak visited the society selfie with maximum likes and played the unique LED Dhols, which were introduced by Vodafone and have now become a major attraction during Ganeshotsav procession. While in Mumbai, apart from creating massive visibility in and around famous Ganapati pandals, Vodafone also distributed branded fans for the devotees waiting in queues.”

Speaking about Red FM’s activities, its COO Nisha Narayanan says, “Red FM celebrates the festive season through its very own musical creation ‘Red Raas’ in Ahmedabad. Red Raas showcases the culture of the Ahmedabad city as well the current scenario of Gujarat through a series of Garbas created with the help of Gujarat’s famous singers and music directors. Red FM uses various outdoor mediums such as hoardings, banners on ground, auto backs, press coverage, and newspaper insertions to connect to its audience. This gives the brand a larger appeal and creates wider awareness. This is the fifth year in a row for Red FM where it has reached out to the audience on a much larger scale for Red Raas through various modes of outdoor advertising.”

“The festive season this year has come a bit early and for many corporates,” remarks Yogesh Mehta, CEO, Welspun’s Retail Division, adding, “It is the beginning of the last two quarters and that is why the impact has not been felt completely. Secondly, the choice of medium for advertising and marketing has expanded over the years and now advertisers have an array of options. So, while advertisers might be spending on each medium, the reach of every medium is so huge, that the impact is not being felt. In today’s time, every medium has become a billboard message, so, the impact is also diluted. The OOH medium allows the marketer to break the clutter and create impact by innovating with different vehicles other than the regular hoardings.”

Mehta further says, “We have come up with interesting ideas to create the perfect engagement for our products. Our attempt was to re-invent ourselves with fresh and new content. This year a lot of our activities focused on festivals. To celebrate Ganpati festival, we created India’s biggest modak in Mumbai. The ‘Modak’, made of boondi and pure ghee, weighed 575 kg and was as tall as 5.11 ft. We then took the modak activity to four cities – Pune, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Panjim. Also, to celebrate the auspicious Durga Puja festival, we came up with a three day brand activation activity at the South City Mall, Kolkata. This activity involved beautiful and creative festival related backdrops, which enhanced the overall aura of festivity within the event area in the mall. There will be lot more events taking place in the near future during the festive season, where we intend to enhance brand visibility and top-of-the-mind recall for our TG. Our innovative festival related initiatives have managed to strike an emotional chord with the target group.”

The festival season every year is heralded by the memorable ads that marketers release not just to push their brands, but also to connect with their customers by tapping into the festive spirit of happiness and celebrations. So important is this season in the marketing cycles of companies that brands typically keep aside 40-45 per cent of their annual ad spends for the festive season. Aggressive, smart advertising and brand promotion is the need of the hour.

“Marketers across sectors are heavily banking on the upcoming festive season. Consumers are in an upbeat mood and are out of their homes travelling, shopping and holidaying which brings a lot of opportunities for outdoor advertising in India. The Mall culture has caught up the fancy of the Indian consumers at an unprecedented speed, working wonders for the brands. With apt and powerful positioning of the brand, it is ensured that you meet the consumer right where he goes to spend big money. Additionally, targeting international and domestic travelers at airports leaves the explorers with an imprint of your brand right at the gateway of the city,” says South African Tourism’s Slabber.

For marketers, the choice of festival is easily decided: there has to be large-scale community participation and it has to be family-friendly. Perhaps the biggest advantage of being present in a puja pandal or any community-based festivity is that the target consumer group is available en masse and virtually captive (“trapped” inside the festive arena). Consumer interaction with the brand in these places is then measured in hours, rather than minutes—exponentially increasing the chances of conversion, since even the usually-value-conscious Indian becomes an unapologetic shopaholic during festivals.

Amit Kumar Gope, Marketing Head of CenturyPly, comments, “Durga Puja is the most exciting time in Bengal. Celebrated with a lot of grandeur and gaiety, the traditional ritual involves preparations for months in advance. This is also celebrated across the country in the form of Navratra and Dussera. One of the most important aspects of the festival is undoubtedly Pandal-building. Pandal-builders work by the sweat of their brow for several months to create pandals that compete to emerge as the best marquee of the year. Though their artwork does win accolades and appreciation, their efforts are rarely awarded. These unsung heroes, who spend months to give us four days of incomparable joy, are left toiling hard, away from home and their families, in a sea of loneliness so that they could gift their loved ones the joy of at least one decent meal a day. The joys of Durga Puja, easily hide the darkness in the lives of these artisans. Celebrate the Champions of Khusiyon Ka Rangmanch. For this, the team has identified one of the prime Puja locations in Kolkata. This Puja has 15 carpenters working there. The CP team has now arranged to get their spouses and children from their native place, completely escorted. The carpenters would be unaware of this initiative. On the day of the event, 25th September, amidst major fanfare these carpenters will be meeting their families at the location. Their families, attired in new dresses, will emerge from behind the large cupboards that are created at the location. The whole local community will be witness to this happy reunion of these Champions of Khusiyon ka Rangmach. The families would additionally be treated to the best of boarding and lodging arrangements, a brief tour of Kolkata in air-conditioned bus, gifts and new dresses.”

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