Industry welcomes positive Pongal business sentiment despite 3rd wave challenges

While some industry heads point out that the response has exceeded expectations, other say the third-wave restrictions have affected the sentiments

e4m by Simran Sabherwal
Published: Jan 14, 2022 8:44 AM  | 7 min read
Pongal

The harvest festival of Pongal marks the first festival of the calendar year for Tamil Nadu. It holds great significance on many counts for the southern state. However, the third wave of Covid-19 has prolonged the uncertainties with multiple state governments enforcing restrictions.

We spoke to several industry experts to take a stock of the consumer and brand sentiment and understand the impact of the third wave on the festivities.

Hinting at a muted sentiment, a television industry veteran told e4m that although the response to Pongal, this year, has been positive, it could have been a bumper year if Covid-19 cases had not grown at such an exponential rate just ahead of the festival.

Sharing an optimistic perspective, Bikash Kundu, SVP & Head - Revenue (Regional Entertainment), Viacom 18 said, “Pongal is looking much better than we anticipated both in terms of the content being showcased on Colors Tamil and the feedback from the market. Despite the onset of the third wave of Covid-19, we have seen strong advertiser interest across categories who continue to be active on Colors Tamil this Pongal.”

Moving on to Print, Martin King, General Manager – Malar Connect (revenue division of Dinamalar that includes Print, Digital and activations) said, “Buying is happening, but advertisers want their spends reduced. However, they expect the same walk-in as in the post-Covid scenario.  Hence, they have started to bargain hard.  One should realize that Covid has affected every industry, including the Print media. While the print industry is passing on discounts as per the increase in volumes, advertisers and agencies should now look at things from our perspective. Consumers jump at offers and the sentiments are not bad at all.  But both the print media and clients will have to be a little more patient for things to be normal again.  We need to look at each other as partners in progress in tough times like these.  It is surely temporary; this too shall pass and soon it will be good times for all.”

The situation doesn’t appear much different in the radio industry. A senior industry leader from a radio station says that though the Pongal season has been positive, it could have been better without Covid-19. Media planners, however, say the advertiser response has by and large been muted. Kishan Kumar Shyamalan, Chief Growth Officer, Wavemaker India, says: “Pongal is typically a high intensity advertising season right in the beginning of the calendar year. Normally, after a great OND quarter in 2021, Pongal should've been another blockbuster. However, from the initial reactions and feedback from the market, it looks like a slightly lukewarm Pongal. A lot of that is to do with the uncertainty around the rising Covid cases in January and the restrictions that followed.” 

Echoing the sentiments was Aparna Tadikonda, Executive Vice President (South), Interactive Avenues – a Reprise Network Company. “This year, Pongal looks much muted than the previous pandemic years, largely due to the fear of the current variant spreading at a much faster pace. Cities like Bangalore where weekend curfews have been imposed have confined the celebration to home spaces. However, some states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana where restrictions are not fully enforced are still seeing celebrating with safety precautions.”

Advertisers On Board

This year, categories that typically advertise during Pongal like FMCG , consumer durables and  jewellery have run campaigns to ride on the shopping sentiment. E-commerce as a category also continued to spend with Pongal sale campaigns. According to Viacom 18’s Kundu, “The traditional Pongal advertisers – jewellery, clothes and retail, the food category, especially oils, spices, chocolates, hosiery and the large format retail stores, particularly in the consumer durable sector, have shown a keen interest. We are in talks with local brands from real estate, retail showrooms, FMCG and BFSI and have got on board names like Gold Winner Oil, Mondelez and Aroma Ghee.”

Malar Connect’s King further highlights that Print has seen traction from the realty sector while retail has been cautious. “Real estate is on the highest spend levels as business has been good for them. The category has been pumping in the moolah. This may be a good tactic in times like these when there is less clutter. Retail is being cautious and still expects a normal ROI at below investment values.  It is to be noted that none of the brands or products have been discounted to push sales.  Discounts are extended only to some products and brands. Other categories like automobile, jewellery and textile are just advertising for visibility.”

Adding more perspective was Wavemaker India’s Shyamalan who said that the usual suspects like FMCG, durables and some of the new economy categories are advertising. “A lot of brands are also kickstarting their new campaigns. However, Pongal is also a time when local retail is bullish and that is missing this year. All things considering, it is a bit low on intensity." 

However, one category that has been significantly impacted are the movie promotions. Traditionally, Pongal is one of the biggest dates in the movie release calendar. The recent restrictions have led to the postponement of two blockbuster releases - Director S S Rajamouli's film RRR, featuring Jr NTR, Ram Charan, Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn, and Ajith’s 'Valimai'.

As for the mediums that gained traction Interactive Avenues’ Tadikonda says, “TV and digital continue to be the lead medium while radio has been leveraged in a few pockets. On Digital, clients are focusing on performance marketing campaigns to tap into the in-market audience for driving ROI.” “Except e-commerce we haven't seen much growth in the spends of other categories. It is mostly BAU with spends around Pongal either flat or de-growing,” she added.

Commenting on the shift to other media platforms, King said, “Some advertisers have moved to digital assuming that it is cheap, but they forget that their brands need to be seen and Print offers that scope with great creativity and innovation. You cannot change preconceived mind sets, but Print needs to wait and watch. Wait for advertisers to realize that they see more value in this true, time-tested and traditional medium.”

Rate Hikes?

A senior veteran from a GEC channel told e4m that with the high growth seen during the previous quarter (October to December) on account of Diwali, the channel was able to increase its rates, albeit marginally. According to Kundu, “We had a strong FY22 October-December quarter and saw a 40% top-line growth (YoY) across regional markets. What was interesting this year was our ability to get a rate hike and get a premium. We saw strong interest from local advertisers, contributing to over 20% of the revenues. In Tamil Nadu, the festival rate hike has been between 15% and 20%. Taking this forward, we are confident that our revenue will be much better than what we did on Pongal last year.” Radio players have also seen a marginal hike in rates over the last quarter with the inventory being sold out.

Summing up the sentiment, King said, “We have grown over last year but still want to compare values to the fiscal period when the pandemic hit us all in March 2020. We need to be positive in a negative situation. I am sure we will see a fiscal 2022-23 on par with 2019-20.”

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Flipkart assigns digital AOR mandate to 22feet Tribal Worldwide

The mandate includes managing Flipkart’s digital campaigns and strategy

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 7, 2023 11:03 AM   |   1 min read

flipkart

Flipkart has awarded its digital AOR mandate to 22feet Tribal Worldwide, following a multi-agency pitch.

The mandate includes managing Flipkart’s digital campaigns and strategy.

Commenting on the win, Preetham Venkky, President - 22feet Tribal Worldwide & Chief Digital Officer, DDB Mudra Group said, “With this digital AOR mandate, we are thrilled to be partnering with Flipkart. Our commitment to creatively enabling Flipkart’s next stage of growth with an increased focus on strengthening their commercial spectrum is hugely exciting. Our teams will provide unexpected and clutter-breaking solutions to help India’s homegrown e-commerce market leader overcome new challenges in the online marketplace.”

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Ogilvy wins creative mandate for Eveready India

The mandate will be handled by Ogilvy’s Mumbai and Kolkata offices

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 7, 2023 10:46 AM   |   1 min read

Ogilvy

Eveready has appointed Ogilvy India as their creative partner. The mandate will be handled by Ogilvy’s Mumbai and Kolkata offices.

Anirban Banerjee, Senior Vice President & Business Unit Head - Battery & Flashlight, said: “The brand which started off describing a powerful battery with ‘Give me Red’, went on to define a generation. We are thrilled to partner with Ogilvy on Eveready’s transformation to re-energise the brand and increase its relevance among the new generation, across its batteries, flashlight and lighting businesses.”

Piyush Pandey, Ogilvy’s Chairman Global Creative & Executive Chairman India, said: “Ogilvy is delighted to partner Eveready. A brand that touches all parts of India from urban to rural. We look forward to creating exciting work that builds both brand and business.”

On the win, Sukesh Nayak, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy India said, “From growing up with these batteries firing up my imagination by bringing all my toys to life to being able to partner the team in charting the next journey of ‘Give me Red’ is truly humbling. My team and I are super excited about this win, and we can’t wait to partner and create work that captures the imagination of everyone.”

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ASCI scans 45,000 digital ads every month: Manisha Kapoor

As controversies and violations of the ASCI code rise in tandem with digital advertising, ASCI CEO and Secretary General Manisha Kapoor calls for brainstorming within the creative industry

By Kanchan Srivastava | Feb 7, 2023 9:03 AM   |   5 min read

asci manisha kapoor

As digital advertising has witnessed an exponential rise over the past couple of years, the challenges of the advertising standard council of India (ASCI) have also gone up. 

Tracking misleading campaigns across the digital universe is far trickier than scrutinising those on mainstream TV and print media.

While a large number of brands, especially startups and SMBs, advertise on social media only, making the sheer number of digital advertisers huge, digital ads are created and replaced quickly, making ASCI's job even more challenging.

The self-regulatory organization has deployed AI-based software that identifies a whopping 45,000 digital campaigns a month for violations of various codes. This is almost double compared to the numbers two years ago.

“Out of 45,000, on average 500 ads are taken up for further probe every month,” says Manisha Kapoor, CEO and Secretary General of the industry’s self-regulatory body.
Besides proactive monitoring, ASCI also receives plenty of consumer complaints against misleading ads on digital platforms, thanks to increasing awareness and sensitivity among Indians.

“Digital ads account for almost half of the cases that ASCI deals with, followed by Print (47%) and then TV (3%). Radio and outdoor campaigns rarely land in trouble as they are much smaller platforms compared to others”, Kapoor points out, highlighting the scale and scope of ASCI’s work in the expanding digital ad market in India.

How does the AI software work?

Meta library lists all ads on the meta platform. The AI-based software red flags only those ads which use certain keywords that are generally used by advertisers to mislead consumers.

Kapoor explains, “For instance, in the food category, the software can track ads that carry the 'immunity booster' phrase. Similarly, in the education category, '100 % jobs' is the catchword. Unless the brands submit solid evidence to prove their claims, such ads are considered misleading.”

Instagram tops in misleading ads

Over 80 percent of misleading ads were floated on leading social media platforms led by Instagram (43%), followed by YouTube (28%), Twitter (6%) and Facebook (3%), ASCI’s data reflects. Websites (18%) also contribute to propagating misleading ads, Kapoor explains.

Kapoor adds that disguised advertising on social media is another challenge for the self-regulatory body, “Many digital ads mimic content. Influencers and blog writers are making ASCI’s jobs even tougher.”

The software also has a certain limitation when it comes to audio ads. “Audio and outdoor are much smaller platforms. Even though our software can’t scan audio ads, we take consumer complaints in this regard,” Kapoor insists.

The majority of advertisers caught by ASCI are D2C brands. Education (26%), Healthcare (15%) and personal care (12%) categories are the top violators. Content violation and Influencers' non-disclosure violations have gone up two-fold over the last four years in the beauty and personal care segment alone, ASCI has found.

Resources

Does the ASCI have enough resources to do a fair job considering its workload and the challenges of the digital advertising ecosystem?

“Even if you have a full army with you, it is difficult to track digital ads. We use filters to prioritize our work. For instance, from April to June, we divert our resources to track education ads and December-January we keep a close tab on skincare and moisturizer ads. This allows us to make a shortlist and then we go through ad by ad. Some violations may be nuanced that require human intervention. Those are taken up by our expert panel,” Kapoor explains.

In two years, the number of ad violations has shot up by 80 percent. We are able to handle the work with the same physical infrastructure and resources. We are smart and quick about what we are tracking, she tells with pride.

Advice to advertisers

Every year, a lot of advertisements land in political controversies, are trolled by social media armies and are sometimes retracted by brands. What advice would she like to give the brands to avoid such troubles?

Kapoor says frankly, “Go all out and be creative as long as you are complying with the ASCI code. We would like to see successful advertising. It's a very vibrant field and has been part of our life and culture. Great advertising must be great for consumers and all stakeholders. We have seen some great advertising that is compliant. We would love for them to be interesting, and entertaining and use more formats. Brands should not take up social issues without understanding nuances.”

Such brands are neither thoughtful nor seek advice from domain experts. Hence, they are caught on the wrong foot. If a brand wishes to steer clear of controversy, it has to be more mature and meaningful. Our report “What India takes offense to' released in 2022 has given enough insight into what triggers people. Obvious pitfalls can surely be avoided, Kapoor advises.

“However, a few controversies can't be predicted as people always have their points of view. That is the cost of doing business. If your work can get trolled in a healthy way, it's fine. It should not become a law and order problem,” Kapoor says.

“We are living in a hypersensitive world. People are becoming more and more sensitive, not only in India but across the world and rightly so. It's a difficult time for the industry to navigate these issues but there is no choice. Brainstorming is the need of the hour”, she opines.

Adequate diversity needed

Adequate diversity in creative advertising is very crucial. It will help advertisers and agencies have a more rounded approach while making campaigns. Besides, brands should back the ad they have put out. Companies can come to us and seek advice about potential violations before making an ad.

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GREY Group India & Netmeds celebrate the courage of cancer fighter Anchal Sharma

‘The Girl In Red Lipstick’ campaign has been conceptualised by GREY group India

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 7, 2023 8:12 AM   |   2 min read

cancer

This World Cancer Day (4th February), Netmeds is celebrating the courage of Anchal Sharma, a cancer fighter.

The film conceptualized by GREY group India is based on the true story of Anchal Sharma called, “The Girl in Red Lipstick”. The film aims to spread the message for cancer fighters and caregivers #SilenceCancerNotTheFight

Anchal Sharma, a cancer fighter, used red lipstick as her weapon to find courage and fight the struggles of cancer treatment. Not only did she keep her head held high, but also used the lipstick to spread her positivity among other fighters. The bright hue on her beaming smile is what stood out for everyone around her as a constant reminder to not give in and keep fighting.

Speaking about this film, Sandipan Bhattacharyya, Managing Director & Chief Creative Officer, GREY group India said, “In Anchal’s story we saw something that could truly inspire everyone who takes on cancer. It’s a story that needs to be shared so we all can get a bit of her courage and that incredible zest for life.”

Shantanu Saha, Chief Marketing Officer, Pharma Business, Reliance Retail, said, “The thought behind this film stemmed from the fact that Netmeds, as an empathetic intermediary between the care receiver and the caregiver, has so many humane stories to tell. These stories are stories we are exposed to on a daily basis. Stories that come back to us from our delivery staff, our customer service staff and from our own networks of friends, colleagues and family. Why not share a few of these stories of healing, courage, wellness & hope with our audience, through the medium of short stories with real-life protagonists. This World Cancer Day, we share the story of Anchal Sharma. A story of sheer grit, positivity and the willpower to want to live life and spread hope, on her own terms. It sits well with our Brand Purpose, which is to provide genuine medicines, at a reasonable price and on time, to the caregivers and care receivers who buy from us. By doing this, we attempt to help deliver, in our own small way, wellness and hope to everyone across the whole nation. We are after all ‘India ki Pharmacy’.”

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Otrivin & Wunderman Thompson create ‘non-toxic’ pencils for school kids

Pioneering project initiated by Haleon brand and Wunderman Thompson Singapore installs air purifiers in schools to collect toxic air particles and turn them into ‘Otrivin Pollution Capture Pencils’

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 6, 2023 1:22 PM   |   3 min read

Otrivin

Nasal health brand Otrivin has launched a pioneering clean air initiative called ‘Otrivin Pollution Capture Pencils’. The innovative project collects pollution by-products and uses them to make (certified non-toxic) pencils for underprivileged children in Bengaluru, India.

Developed in collaboration with Wunderman Thompson Singapore as part of WPP Team GSK/Haleon for the Otrivin Actions to Breathe Cleaner programme, the project has focused on Bengaluru.

For this initial phase of the project, twenty-two air purifiers, with the ability to wipe out up to 74% air-borne pollutants, were installed both inside and outside the school buildings to improve air quality for over 1,500 young students.

Over two months, the specially designed purifiers, which use revolutionary soot cleaning technology developed by Indian innovation company Panjurli Labs, and cleaned over 2 billion cubic feet of toxic air.

The resulting pollution residue was gathered and mixed with graphite to create the core of 10,000 custom-designed pencils. Certified non-toxic, Otrivin’s Pollution Capture Pencils were distributed to students, and will also act as fundraising tools for the installation of more air purifiers in local schools – thereby creating a self-sustaining ecosystem for change.

Farhad Nadeem, Global Marketing & Digital Director, Otrivin, said: “We at Haleon and our creative partners are led by our purpose – to help people breathe cleaner. The Otrivin Actions To Breathe Cleaner initiative is built on the premise that no action is too small when it comes to reducing our exposure to air pollution. The Otrivin ‘Pollution Capture Pencils’ pilot in India is one such action that attempts to convert air pollution into positivity. We hope that this initiative, while not solving India’s pollution challenge, inspires people to take simple actions to make the world a better place to live in and breathe.”

The collaboration is supported by a launch campaign developed by Wunderman Thompson Singapore, working in conjunction with a wider team at WPP including Wunderman Thompson India and Grey London.

Wunderman Thompson Singapore’s Creative Director, Aarti Nichlani, who has been involved with the project from the start, says: “Air pollution is not going away in a hurry. Meanwhile, it’s the poorest children who bear the greatest burden. An innovation like Pollution Capture Pencils helps make a change at a time when children need it most… today.”

Wunderman Thompson Singapore’s Chief Creative Officer, Mateusz Mroszczak, says of the project: “The biggest reward for any creative agency is to deliver an idea that works both for the client and the greater good. An opportunity like this doesn’t come by often. We’re really proud to have partnered with Otrivin to take a small, but meaningful step to help bring cleaner air to India’s children.”

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For Valentine’s Day, CaratLane shares stories of love in #KhulKeKaroExpress campaign

The campaign is created by BBH India

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 6, 2023 1:01 PM   |   2 min read

CaratLane

CaratLane, an omni-channel jewellery brand, has launched its Valentine’s Day campaign, “Khul Ke Karo Express”. Building on the brand’s core purpose to help consumers express themselves, the campaign brings forward multiple stories inspired by real CaratLane customers sharing their emotions. While spouse gifting is still the majority of the gifting orders during Valentine’s Day, the brand has also seen other relationships like mother-daughter, self-gifting, and sibling-gifting emerging in a big way. The campaign video showcases the roller coaster dynamic between a father and daughter, the unsaid love story of a husband and wife, and the affection shared by a son and mother. The video subtly captures the narrative of how sometimes we are caught in the monotony of life and miss expressing our love to our loved ones. The #KhulKeKaroExpress campaign has been conceptualised and executed by “BBH India (a Publicis Groupe agency)”.

To bring this campaign to life, CaratLane has also introduced an exclusive message card in their gift box. This card has a QR code to add a personalised message, integrated with AR activation in-stores. This allows consumers to express their message without hesitation and adds to a customised jewellery experience to make Valentine’s gifts truly unforgettable.

Talking about the campaign, Jennifer Pandya, VP Marketing of CaratLane, said, “We are very excited to launch this campaign in time for Valentine’s Day. We know that the brand plays a big role in enabling people to express their emotions to their loved ones through the gift of jewellery, but as humans, we don't always find it easy to express what we really feel. So we wanted to champion the expression of emotions. Our consumers tell us that the biggest payoff while gifting is the joy and happiness they see on the receiver's face when they unbox the gift. Through this campaign, we have tried to capture these emotions, joy, happiness, and excitement - to encourage everyone to express their emotions.”

Aarti Srinivasan, ECD, BBH India added, “In a technologically advanced world, it's refreshing to take a moment and show the old-school way.  Remaining true to BBH’s ‘Zag’ philosophy and CaratLane’s mission to help people express emotions, we wanted to elevate the feeling of gifting by focusing on the moment of gifting; of looking into someone's eyes and expressing what you feel unabashed and at the same time see the emotions of the receiver. Hence, the thought of #KhulKeKaroExpress was born.”

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In RummyCircle’s new film, Hrithik Roshan talks about making the right choices in life

This is the fourth edition of ‘raho ek kadam aage’ campaign

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 6, 2023 12:44 PM   |   2 min read

rummycircle

RummyCircle has launched the fourth edition of its Raho Ek Kadam Aage campaign with brand ambassador Hrithik Roshan, which features exciting action-packed stories of how the star uses his skills to deal with real-life scenarios and his game of online rummy.

Continuing with its underlying theme, the fourth edition of this popular campaign focuses on how foresight, skill, and intelligence are crucial for skilled and responsible gameplay.

The year-long campaign has featured multiple creative films around the central theme of skill gaming using the catch line of Raho Ek Kadam Aage, highlighting the use of planning, critical thinking, situational responses, and decision-making, etc, as winning strategies. Four campaigns have been released in a span of a year-long engagement with Hrithik Roshan as RummyCircle’s brand ambassador, regularly infusing new energy into the campaign and sustaining consumer interest.

Commenting on the campaign, Avik Das Kanungo, Associate Vice President- Brand and Marketing Strategy, Games24x7 said “We are thrilled to present the fourth edition in our series of Raho Ek Kadam Aage campaign with Mr. Hrithik Roshan, where he brings his highly skilled and action-packed moves to highlight how he makes the right ‘choice’ to win in life and in rummy. We’ve had an extremely exciting year where we’ve attempted to build the category and reinforce the core brand message of skilled and responsible gameplay while showcasing the thrill of the game. The campaigns have been successful in highlighting RummyCircle as a preferred platform for online rummy where players can hone their gameplay and compete with other skilled players.”

The film in fourth edition of the #RahoEkKadamAage campaign shows Hrithik set in a surreal space where he equates the importance of choosing the right script, with making the right moves in the game of Rummy. He’s also seen carefully making a ‘choice’ to discard and pick the right cards in the game. The film has been designed by DDB Mudra. The fourth leg of this multi-media campaign will be digitally led and will engage consumers through popular video platforms like YouTube and Sharechat as well as various OTT and social media platforms.

 

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