Onam, the biggest of all festivals in the land of Kathakali and snake boats, is round the corner. Celebrated over a period of 10 days, the Onam carnival reaches its peak during the last three big days – which this year falls on August 21, 22 and 23 – and Malayalam dailies are already having a crack at the ad pie.
With Kerala's harvest festival giving them the biggest opportunity to pull in the maximum ad revenue possible, the marketing arena of Malayalam dailies has been witnessing frantic activity.
Like every Onam season, consumer durables are the main advertisers during this Onam. LG, Samsung, Sony, Philips, and Panasonic – all of them advertise in a big way during Onam. Apart from consumer durables, textiles, jewellery, automobiles and mobile handset manufacturers are the other major advertisers during Onam which also happens to the time when a whole lot of purchase happens. As far as consumer durables were concerned, about 50 to 60 percent of their annual sales happen during Onam festival, says Varghese Chandy, Senior General Manager, Marketing Operations, Malayala Manorama.
With economy back into a buoyant groove, which obviously is reflecting positively on ad spends of national players; most of the print players in Kerala are expecting good advertising revenue growth this year. “The economy is back on track, which is already reflecting positively on ad spends of national players. Locally, the retail market is very strong and they do patronise the media heavily, also to catch the attention of the seasonal flock of high-spending gulf expats to kerala, therefore, I foresee higher advertising revenue compared to last year during this festive season,” said Shreyams Kumar, Director, Electronics Media, Mathrubhumi Printing and Publishing Co.
According to Chandy Manorama had registered growth even in the so-called ‘recession years’ and has always been growing. “Definitely we are expecting some growth this year also in tune with the growth which is being reflected in the market nationally,” he said.
While both Malayala Manorama and Deshabhimani, another Malayalam daily, expect to rake in approximately 20 percent of their annual advertising revenue during Onam, Mathrubhumi expects its ad revenue double compared to the festival period in 2009. According to Deshabhimani spokesperson they expect 100 percent growth as compared to Last year Onam season in terms of advertising revenue.
Speaking about the marketing, communication and other BTL activities that Manorama has been undertaking, Chandy said, “Onam is not something alien to the marketers any more. So, what we generally do is a reminder which happens at least couple of months before Onam because that’s time when the planning starts.”
This year, Manorama went around the metros with Puli Kali, a tiger dance. Along with that mailers were sent to the marketers and advertisers. Apart from that, Manorama has not done much BTL activity. “In fact, we would take the claim of popularising Onam as a festival about 12-13 years ago. We owned this property and went around the whole country. At that point of time, there was a need as people didn’t know. Today, everybody knows about it and Onam is definitely one of the most important parts of the marketers’ calendar. Basically, it’s the new advertisers who come on the horizon who need to be told, and for that we do lot of advertising and mailers during this point of time,” Chandy explained.
Meanwhile, Mathrubhumi organises pookkalam (floral arrangements) and cookery contests. “Incidentally, the more exciting BTL activities happen in the FM segment, where our Club FM 94.3 rules the auditory imagination of Keralite teens and youth,” said Kumar.
Like every year, print media is expected to take the lion’s share of the advertising revenue as print reach is still very strong in Kerala as compared to other mediums. According to Chandy, “In one lakh-plus town, Manorama has a reach of 40 percent plus compared to that any popular programme on television, which was only delivering a reach close to around 11-12 per cent. So, obviously there was a huge difference in the reach even today in Kerala, therefore, naturally advertisers will queue behind the print.”
Considering the lion’s share of advertising revenue that the print in Kerla commands, one is not surprised by the fact that that Manorama spends about 25 per cent of its total annual ad spend during Onam alone.