If the last Lok Sabha elections were an indicator, political advertising in India has been something to watch out for. According to a report in the Hindustan Times, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spent around Rs 5,000 crore on its campaign. Most parties earmark a majority of their for advertising on television. Ad spend on TV by the BJP as well as the Congress was estimated to be around Rs.70-80 crore during the month of March according to an Economic Times report.
With the run up to the Maharashtra Assembly elections on October 15, we take a closer look at how regional channels are likely to benefit from the high-pitched political campaigns.
Regional channels benefit
Anuj Poddar, EVP, Viacom 18 & Business Head, ETV Marathi indicated a season of windfall for regional channels. “The political parties are running (their ad campaigns) very aggressively. From the day poll code got announced, they jumped into the fray. Obviously, they were waiting for it. We have campaigns for BJP, Congress and NCP currently running on our channel. We are not able to service them fully because October is peak season and our inventory runs full. Everybody wants high frequency and high number of spots. So we have to drop some clients (reduce ad spots of some clients) to accommodate them.”
Similarly, Mayuresh Wadke, Marketing Head, Star Pravah said there are a couple of political ad campaigns running on their channel right now. However, he wasn’t sure if they have increased since the last assembly elections, as the data had not come in.
Commenting on the focus on regional channels, Anand Chakravarthy, West Head, Maxus India said, “It makes more sense for political parties to focus on Marathi channels. But I think there would also be some exposure on national and English channels. That will be more from a perspective of building on a national presence. But the largest chunk of the money will go for regional channels because they are talking to the electorate which is in Maharashtra.”
Similarly, Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media Group, India & South Asia said, “The assembly election campaigns are skewed towards Marathi channels however, they are also present on certain channels of national interest.”
Most of the TVCs created by the four main political parties (Congress, BJP, NCP and Shiv Sena) are in Marathi. BJP’s TVC called ‘Chala Deu Modina Saath’ has locals talk about the lack of progress in the state. A majority of them are in Marathi except two (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4A6zRtP8YQ&list=PL8Z1OKiWzyBEj_e0lMEWeNPhefeP-wSOt) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bapfhw17Oyc&index=9&list=PL8Z1OKiWzyBEj_e0lMEWeNPhefeP-wSOt). The Congress Party on the other hand has created quite a stir as it has decided to pick ex-CM Prithviraj Chavan as their face for their campaign instead of Vice President Rahul Gandhi in their TV campaign called “Samruddha Jhalela, Sampanna Jhalela Maharashtra Majha Pahila”. Its once strong alliance partner, NCP, on the other hand has decided to go with Ajit Pawar as the face of their party for the TV campaign. The break-up of the saffron alliance also has lead to Shiv Sena launching their own TVC called ‘Majha Nav Shivsena’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNHAhhOlLDU) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97ltz5h_M9w&list=PL2rPxVR1IPfp2RuXoC4YN_JPJbPYdWjxC).
Increasing TV ad spends
According to a recent article on Mail Online India, the amount spent by the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena for TV campaigns is to the tune of Rs 50-70 crore, while the BJP has spent more than Rs.100 crore for its TVCs. These are rather big figures for assembly elections.
“To be honest, BJP is clearly ahead of the other two (Congress and NCP) in terms of the spends they are doing. But what I am seeing is Congress is also catching up with them…there seems to be no cap on the spends yet for NCP either,” said Poddar.
Commenting on the increase in ad spends Chakravarthy said, “ The benchmark has changed after the general elections. All political parties now recognise the fact that they have to stay in the consumer mind space for as long as possible within the advertising period which is allowed by the Election Commission, for them to be able to win. So you are certainly seeing a lot more aggressive media spends happening than what one used to see five years back.”