In 2010, Global Advertisers erected a giant-sized billboard at Marine Drive for US President Barack Obama during his visit to Mumbai, which grabbed eyeballs. In recent times, Narendra Modi has managed to cause quite a stir with his hoardings declaring ‘I am a Hindu Nationalist’ spread all over Mumbai.
Welcome to the world of political campaigns using the outdoor media. The coming weeks will only see this trend gaining momentum as the country gears up for the 16th Lok Sabha Elections in 2014.
A lot is at stake and political parties across the board are sparing no expenses when it comes to advertising on different media. According to industry experts, on an average a national party spends approximately Rs 50 crore per year, while every fifth year this figure burgeons to around Rs 300-350 crore.
“Though the spends should be in line with the Election Commission’s mandate, estimates indicate much higher volumes as per statements given in the press by some senior leaders,” said Rajiv Saxena, Managing Director, Blue Ocean.
According to Sanjeev Gupta, Managing Director, Global Advertisers, at least 500 political hoardings fill the skyline on any given day in Mumbai and surrounding areas. If numbers are to be believed, 67,428 hoardings were removed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation last year, 71 per cent of which had been put up by various political parties.
“Over the years, political advertising on outdoor has become really visible. Earlier, it used to be someone in the family of the decision maker who used to run the business, but now formal pitches are called for. Family still plays a role in the decision making though. Parties and political well wishers are using the medium as an announcement mode to the targeted few but important decision makers,” observed Mandeep Malhotra, Head and President, DDB MudraMax.
How organised are national parties when it comes to outdoor advertising?
“With the Election Commission getting more organised and regulated, political advertising has been evolving big time, from party advertising to individual advertising, including PR activities. And for last few years, the Congress party and other key parties have been hiring professional services of advertising agencies,” pointed out Saxena.
In a latest development, to keep a track of hoardings put up to highlight the UPA Government’s achievements, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has decided to use a GPS-based system in the second phase of its Bharat Nirman campaign. According to various media reports, the Department of Audio Visual Publicity is shortlisting firms that can provide state-of-the-art technology to set up the GPS-based system for outdoor publicity. This is the first time that a comprehensive mechanism is being set up to monitor and assess all high profile campaigns for the first time, media reports stated.
This has been done given the difficulty in ascertaining whether hoardings put up had been positioned at the assigned places. With the installation of GPS-enabled antennae on top of the hoardings, MIB officials would be able to know the exact location of these ad hoardings.
As per various media reports, I&B Minister Manish Tewari had in the early phase of the Bharat Nirman campaign formed teams and assigned roles to different departments to monitor the rollout of the campaign. While the Press Information Bureau was utilising its offices in various regions to monitor the campaign at the field level, the Research Reference and Training Division was monitoring the campaign online.
It will be interesting to see how Opposition parties will react to such use of technology and increased monitory and what counter campaigns one can look forward to as the political battle plays out on outdoor media.