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Has the BJP lost the OOH battle to the Congress?

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Has the BJP lost the OOH battle to the Congress?

The last few days have seen the city of Mumbai being plastered by hoardings and posters of a smiling Rahul Gandhi. A similar story can be told for cities and towns across the length and breadth of the country. Congress’ marketing machinery has been in overdrive and the OOH space has seen a good chunk of the alleged Rs 500 crore spent by the party on marketing and media activities. An industry source estimates that the Congress must have shelled out close to Rs 100 crore on OOH activities this year, with perhaps 20,000 outdoor ads across the country. The city of Mumbai itself currently hosts somewhere between 200 and 250 Congress signages and hoardings, lining the major roads as well as strategic locations, and across transit media properties such as bus stops.

The BJP is yet to announce its creative and advertising agency, which is expected to happen this week, and one can’t help feel that the Congress has managed to steal a march over its political rivals. The issue with a medium like OOH is that inventory is always limited, so strategic locations need to be booked well in advance if the brand doesn’t want to run the risk of losing out on them. With the Congress already having taken the best spots, as it appears right now, it seems unlikely that they will vacate them any time soon. If this happens, then the BJP will have to settle for the second or even-third best options.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the owner of an advertising agency, which has also pitched for the BJP campaign, said, “They (BJP) went to sleep on this (campaign). In OOH, a lot also depends on how long the campaigns are run, so, maybe, the BJP could get some of the better spots if the Congress vacates them.” However, it has been reliably learnt that the Congress has no plans of vacating most, if not all, of their OOH spots till at least April 2014.

One way of looking at this situation is that this scarcity will force BJP to pay more premium rates for available inventory. Though, as pointed out by an OOH agency head, we could see a focused campaign in a shorter duration, which backed by strong financial support, could have more impact on the populace.

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