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Some pitch, some ditch as poll ads blitz kicks off

26-January-2004
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Some pitch, some ditch as poll ads blitz kicks off

The accent appears to be on ‘creative image building campaigns’ in the political advertising arena these days. In order to woo voters across the country, major political parties are now seeking the help of leading advertising agencies to design their image-building ad campaigns for the forthcoming general elections. Gone are the days when political parties mainly relied on in-house agencies or small creative outfits.

And this year, a new medium enters the political advertising space: Short Messaging Service (SMS), which will support print, television and outdoor media campaigns during the Lok Sabha polls 2004, according to industry analysts.

Incidentally, the Congress party has recently invited six advertising majors for a crucial pitch, while the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is in the process of finalising its advertising agencies, according to key industry sources in Mumbai.

“The Congress has invited six agencies for a presentation — and the agencies in the fray include Madison Creative and Orchard Advertising,” informed sources.

When contacted by FE, Sam Balsara, managing director, Madison Communications, said: “Yes, we have been invited for a pitch by the Congress. And now we are in discussion with the party. In fact, Madison Creative has been handling political advertising campaigns for the last 15 years.”

And the ad budget for the Lok Sabha polls 2004 is expected to touch Rs 230 crore, according to industry analysts. The countdown for the general elections 2004 has truly begun in the Indian advertising circles.

Yet another leading advertising agency, Lowe India, is also currently in discussion with certain political parties for the elections, Pranesh Misra, COO, Lowe India, said.

While some leading advertising agencies are keen to work on political accounts, there are others like WPP Group’s brands which include JWT India, O&M and Contract, which are staying away from political advertising. The reason? “As per international policy, we do not work on political advertising campaigns,” explained a director in Contract Advertising.

With political fortunes swinging pendulously, a few ad agencies prefer not being associated with one party or the other. When contacted by FE, Madhukar Kamath, managing director and chief executive officer, Mudra Communications, said: “As a matter of policy, we do not handle political advertising at Mudra, though we have been invited by many parties across the country.”

Sharing similar views, Ramesh Narayan, managing director, Canco Advertising, said his agency would not be pitching for any politcal ad campaigns during this general elections. “It’s considered as a high-risk category. Which is why, premier media companies are insisting on advance payments when it comes to election advertising,” he added.

Rediffusion DY&R, which has been associated earlier with the Congress party earlier, is not handling any political advertising campaign during this general election. Preet Bedi, president, Rediffusion DY&R, said: “We are not in any political advertising this year.”

Clearly, it’s a split vote so far: for every one agency desperately pitching for a political party account, Elections 2004 has several who are ditching the political arena.

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