EC order on eco-friendly outdoor poll campaigns gets mixed response from industry

Most welcome ban on images of serving defence personnel in campaign displays

Eco-friendly political campaigns this election season

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has instructed all recognised political parties to take up sustainable practices and use of environment-friendly campaigns for their outdoor campaigns as an alternative to material or fabric that is damaging to the environment. 

The ECI has also mandated that images of serving defence personnel shall not be used for any election campaign displays.

“The election commission has directed political parties and candidates to desist from using environmentally hazardous publicity material and promote usage of eco-friendly substances for the preparation of election campaign material. This is a kind of appeal to everybody,” Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said on Sunday at a press conference. 

We spoke to industry experts about how they are planning to follow the ECI guidelines and what kind of challenges they could face. It is learnt while some hoarding owners are happy about this move others are finding it a challenge. 
Sujit Banerjee, director and CEO, Ecosys is happy with the decision. “I think it is a welcome move, an excellent decision. Politicisation of the armed forces will not happen and should not have happened earlier also. In OOH, most of the political campaigns have a very negative flavour that should not happen. Now, with the EC order, billboards might not look very visually appealing but if the brands want to extend their advertising bug they should have very clean communication or visual.” 

Alok Gupta, Director, Graphisads too feels that the EC decision is a welcome move for the industry. “Primarily the order for using eco-friendly materials is regarding promotional merchandise like Flags and banners and this is a welcome move. However, the EC should have sensitised the industry and political parties earlier. It is next to impossible to get it implemented at the last moment.” 

“We support the decision of not using any image of defence personnel in OOH displays. However, it is a more of a political decision than the one that shall impact our business. We do not have a say in the creative/design aspect. As long as they are approved by the EC, we are ok with it.” 

Pawan Bansal, COO, Jagran Engage says using eco-friendly material will be a one big challenge. “In places like UP, Bihar and Jharkhand, there is a lot of use of wall wrap during the elections. If we have to use eco-friendly material, then the cost of the wall wrap will not be sustainable for political parties. I think this will only force political parties to cut down on the spends. The expenses will go up for printing eco-friendly material. We really don’t know if the political parties are willing to spend on eco-friendly fabric.”

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