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Thursday, October 5, 2023

Overview of Festive Marketing in 2022- Piali Dasgupta, Senior Vice President – Marketing, Columbia Pacific Communities

The festive season in India begins in August and goes on right till the end of the year. It begins with Rakhi, continues with Ganesh Chaturthi – a festival celebrated with much fervour in the west and the south of the country, Onam – the harvest festival in Kerala, Dussehra, Durga Puja and Navratri across the country, followed by Diwali, Bhai Dooj and ending with Christmas.

Piali Dasgupta, Senior Vice President – Marketing, Columbia Pacific Communities

In pure trade terms, therefore, the festive season in India lasts for more than a quarter. And that means that festive marketing is geared towards not just capitalising on the purchase power of Indians during this time, but also to meet and exceed revenue targets for the year.

Diwali is the mother of all festivals in India, at least as far as advertising and media buying is concerned. This year, after two years of pandemic-led restrictions, people were looking forward to stepping out and meeting friends and family during Diwali. This led to an increase in the consumption of OOH (Out of Home) and Digital OOH advertisement. Other preferred media platforms were GEC on Television, sports channels (Asia Cup and T20 World Cup) as well as social media such as Instagram and Youtube where a majority of the consumers, even from Tier 2 and 3 cities, discover products.

Festive marketing can take many forms. There could be straight-jacket Sale communication, that most e-commerce giants carry out for their pre-festive sales. Then there are ads in categories that experience high demand, such as jewellery, sweets and chocolates, mobile phones, automobiles and fashion – that rope in star power to generate product love. Anil Kapoor’s Diwali ad for Malabar Gold this year or Sara Ali Khan and Hrithik Roshan’s ads for Ferrero Rocher, Kajol’s ad for Kwality Walls and Vicky Kaushal’s Diwali ad for Reliance Trends are just some of the examples.

A third category of Diwali ads that have started emerging particularly in the last few years of purpose-driven marketing, is what I like to call feel-good ads. We have all seen and loved what Cadbury Celebrations has been doing with their Diwali ads the last two years for small businesses. This year too, they rallied behind small business owners that don’t own a shop and created a campaign to give them more prominence, and hopefully, more business.

Fine jewellery brand Tanishq is usually one to do narrative-driven feel-good ads, that tie back to their core brand philosophy of empowering women and letting them chart their own destinies. This year too, their Diwali ads celebrated women (a start-up founder and an air force officer) and the unique, brave choices they make in their lives.

Ad spends in Diwali this year was projected to be between Rs 27,000 crore to Rs 30,000 crore, a growth of 15 to 20% compared to last year. But with an avalanche of advertisement during this time, it’s easy for brands to get lost in the clutter. It’s not about big-ticket campaigns and roping in celebrities for festive campaigns. It’s about authenticity, relevance, and the ability to craft a great story that breaks through the abundant clutter.

It’s also about understanding that only a full-funnel approach works during the festive season, just like any other time of the year. So, aggressively driving performance marketing, without paying attention to a compelling brand story, is never the right move.

Over the years, many innovative offline marketing initiatives during the festive season have also helped brands garner eyeballs, drive sales and build salience. For example, some of us remember Parle’s initiative during Durga Puja in 2014 in Kolkata, creating a Puja pandal made of over 3 lakh Parle biscuits. The pandal, which was inaugurated by Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee, was visited by millions of people making Parle enjoy massive share of mind and creating affinity for the brand.

At Columbia Pacific Communities, we typically eschew the clutter and conundrum of Diwali, and roll out a digital-only campaign during Christmas every year. Our campaigns, over the years, have won us several accolades from prestigious forums for championing the brand credo of positive ageing and bringing to the fore one of the most forgotten and neglected segments of society – senior citizens. Our campaign #SignsOfLove done in 2020, was about a special gift of love for the deaf and mute community of India from senior residents of our communities. And last year, through our initiative #MsSanta, we drove an important message on gender neutrality for the future generations. 

Festive marketing will never lose its spark, pun intended. However, ultimately, it’s upto brand guardians to determine how they would adapt to the changing ecosystem in Marketing, and listen to the evolving needs of the consumer, and deliver a message that resonates with them during and beyond the festival.


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