Radio had played in important role in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) victory in the Lok Sabha elections held last year. With Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sweeping the Delhi polls, radio has proved its mettle in regional marketing once again. Even the most conservative estimates are pegging the total ad spends on the medium around Rs 8-10 crore.
Nisha Narayanan, COO of RED FM, said this time the estimated ad spends by political parties in the national Capital had seen a rise of at least 40-50 per cent compared with the previous assembly elections. Some other operators put the estimated ad spends as high as Rs 15-16 crore.
Radio executives said spends on radio by both AAP and BJP was pretty competitive. One of them said AAP might have spent slightly more given the long-term campaign they carried out. However, another radio operator said the spends could have been high as Rs 8-10 crore for the BJP, while AAP would have spent around Rs 2-4 crore. On the other hand, Congress has been relatively quiet, with one executive saying they would have accounted for less than 5 per cent of the total ad spends.
Even during the Lok Sabha elections, it was estimated that around Rs 48 crore was spent overall in political advertising on radio.
Narayanan says with nearly 40 per cent of the budget being spent on radio advertising, stations have faced an inventory crunch, especially as campaigns have also started late, leading to almost double the spots being run during this elections as opposed to the Delhi elections last time around.
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AAP’s spectacular win in the Capital could also be attributed to an innovative and focused campaign that started as early as November last year. “The fact that AAP started so early gave them a headstart against the competition. It also allowed them to regroup as a party, identify their shortcomings. They invested time in putting together a product and communication that appealed to people,” said Ashwin Padmanabhan, National Business Head, Big FM.
When asked about what differentiated AAP’s campaign, he said through their communications, they came across as an honest party who accepted their shortcomings and showed a strong desire to change.
“AAP’s campaign was party-focused rather than voter-focused. They used radio extensively as OOH proved to be expensive. Towards the latter stage of the campaign, AAP did a dipstick on radio, which was projected as an advertorial. It had cub reporters going to different localities, asking people who they wanted to vote for. We saw parties changing creatives even during the course of the day to counter rival comments,” he added. He called the dynamism shown by political parties like “having a rally on air”.
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Narayan said political parties did a lot of experiment with their campaigns. “There are vox pops, promotional songs, etc. In fact, the promotional songs of AAP and BJP are catching up among the youth. Dedicated elections songs were used by almost all parties and private FM stations played a major role in promoting these songs,” she said.
Some of the ad spots that were streaming on radio prior to the elections are --
1) 5 Saal Kejriwal
When you have a noted music composer like Vishal Dadlani in your team, it makes sense to make use of him. And that is exactly what AAP did with 5 Saal Kejariwal.
2) Modi ka saath chahiye
Continuing with its strategy that has served the party so well in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP stuck to projecting Modi as the focus of their campaign.
3) Dilli Banayi Thi, Dilli Banayenge
Congress started off its radio campaign much later than the others and it definitely seems to be No. 3, in what is looking like a three-dog race. In this campaign, the party concentrates on its achievements over the years and the issues facing Delhi.