When BJP painted Varanasi saffron with OOH advertising

We saw huge hoardings of Narendra Modi all over Kashi, says a Varanasi resident

e4m by Anjali Thakur
Updated: Jun 4, 2019 8:37 AM

The landslide victory of the Narendra Modi-led NDA stunned and silenced critics and the Opposition alike. One of the major factors contributing to this win was a very smartly crafted election campaign. The party went all out to leave a lasting impression on voters through all possible mediums, be it road shows, digital, TV, radio, print or OOH (out-of-home) advertising. And BJP left no stone unturned when it came to advertising in Modi’s parliamentary constituency Varanasi. The temple city was painted saffron during the election season, especially through the OOH medium. Jagran Engage was given the mandate to roll out the party’s campaign in the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh that includes Varanasi.

“We saw huge hoardings of Narendra Modi all over Kashi. The advertising was hard to miss, whether you travel by public transport or own vehicle. The party did everything to keep the ‘Modi wave’ going in the city,” said Raghvendra Soni, 29, a resident of Varanasi.

The massive campaigning in the city obviously bore results and Modi won by a huge margin of 4.79 lakh votes in Varanasi. He did not only retain his seat, but also saw his victory margin go up by nearly 1 lakh votes as compared to the 2014 General Elections.

According to reports, BJP spent around Rs 50 crore on outdoor media across India. While the total advertising spends on elections this year was expected to be Rs 5,000 crore, the actual figure spent overall could touch almost Rs 30,000 crore, if the cost of OOH (out-of-home) advertising and on-ground activities is included.   

Anup Sharma, an independent political campaign strategist and mentor at The Lentils Institute, shared some insights about what would have been BJP’s key strategies in Varanasi.

“Varanasi has been the most looked upon constituency. For BJP, Banaras is a very important constituency. This was the statement that they wanted to make in the 2014 elections. Modi is a challenger; he doesn’t need a safe seat. BJP tried to bring in a lot of changes. They tried to bring physical & visible changes. People wanted to see what changes have been made in Banaras.”

“Although Modi was not physically present in Varanasi all the time, but he could be seen all across the city through larger-than-life billboards. BJP spent a lot on outdoor advertising. Wherever you went in the city, you could see him. Modi is a brand. It is not important for him to be present there physically. OOH advertising is always there,” added Sharma.

According to Alok Gupta, Director, Graphisads Pvt Ltd, BJP knows the outdoor game very well.

“They do it strongly in every state and region. And Varanasi being the PM’s parliamentary constituency, the city got special attention,” he said.

“BJP stood out in all marketing campaigns during the election. The party never had a blind spot. The medium that they used was extensive in nature and they kept changing the taglines, messages etc. Creative messaging is as important, if not more, as the media itself. With an extensive use of colours (saffron), the town of Varanasi was painted saffron.”

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