Diwali accounts for a big share of total print ad sales – around 15 per cent as compared to festivals such as New Year and Pongal/Sankranti that command around 10 per cent of ad sales at least for regional publications. As per experts, the time period for Diwali advertising has come down by almost 50 per cent, from a month before the festival a few years ago, to around two weeks in recent years. A general consensus in the media community is that while retail, jewellery and some consumer durables still account for a significant part of print media's advertising, the value of textiles has come down as more players have opted for TV. Again, as an off-take, the market is slow to pick up and the activity is yet to gain momentum. Print, predictably seems not that buoyant about the festival season, as it was a year back.
Says I Venkat, Director, Eenadu Group, “Every year, the Diwali activity picks up around this time. Yet, this year, the build up has been extremely slow with most advertisers being cautious about their spends and planning in a much more stringent manner. The market is not looking that good, and the process of buying and selling appears sluggish. Either way, we are only expecting around 15 per cent leap in revenues, as opposed to a 25 per cent leap as in the year before. Electronics and FMCGs would of course be the major spenders, followed by retail.” Eenadu would certainly be coming up with hordes of Diwali-oriented stuff, news, titbits, and details about the festivities in the south.
However, Girish Aggarwal, Director (Marketing), Dainik Bhaskar asserts, “This year, the build up has been slow, but we expect things to gain momentum after November 5. Either way, we should see at least 45 per cent hike in revenues. The big spenders would naturally be consumer durables and electronics, followed by FMCG’s and retail. Lately, we have been noticing a steady increase in decibels as far as financial institutions go, and we expect some action from this front as well.”
He adds, “The popular media notion is that Diwali amounts to harvest period for publications. However, in most cases, the pages are so cluttered with advertisements that you may have to accommodate your Diwali-oriented content, in additional pages. As a result, your profit margins may increase, but your printing costs skydive as well.”
Bharat Kapadia, Publisher, Chitralekha, is upbeat about the prospects this season. He asserts, “Diwali specials are big in the western region. As far as the Western unit is concerned, in Marathi alone, there are some 400 titles that are being published. These are thick issues with plenty of leisure material, such as stories, cartoons and festival related features. We are bringing out a Diwali bumper issue for both the Gujarati and Marathi editions of Chitralekha. As is known, advertisers predictably hike their communication during this time (in our case, jewellery majors are huge contributors) and around 40-45 per cent of advertising revenues are built during the October-December quarter. We derive tremendous support from our advertisers, and the big-time spenders like Garnier, Omega, Revlon, Hutch, Orra and Dubai Tourism. Retailers also provide tremendous impetus to our advertiser base.”
He continues, “Diwali is the biggest season of all, and our Diwali edition is just as big. As far as marketing our content goes, we have always been innovative in our efforts. Like this time around, we asked the recipient of our festival mailer to solve a crossword, which involved trivia about the festival and our publishing group. The winner would be walking away with a chic and expensive Mont Blanc watch. Naturally, we have been flooded with entries.”
How would Kapadia categorize Chitralekha’s showing in the last festive season? He answers, “We witnessed an excellent response. The Gujarati Chitralekha Special was sold out within hours of hitting the stands. As for our Marathi special, it was sold in large numbers and was selected as the best Diwali issue by the All India Patrakaar Sangh amongst all Marathi Diwali specials. I believe that we lead in terms of quality content and we serve major proportions of it.”
As far as revenue opportunities are concerned, the season is full of speculations. And while most regional publications debate about the slow momentum on the Diwali spends front, there are still some that claim to have walked away with the cherry and the cake.