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With the new ban, condom makers should tap into digital for their TG: Industry experts

19-December-2017
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With the new ban, condom makers should tap into digital for their TG: Industry experts

The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry’s recent ban of condom ads on television from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. has been a topic for heated discussions and debates since the past few days. A recent press release by the Advertising Standard Council of India reads, “ASCI welcomes the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting’s (MIB) recent advisory on airing of condom advertisements between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.”

A research study from AdEx India, a division of TAM media research which examined condom ads and their growth from January-November’15 to January-November’17 points out some interesting information from the sector. It shows a steep increase in the ad volumes of condom ads over the course of January –November 2015-2017 during commercial time, excluding the promos. The fact that the ad volume being 100 in the Jan-November 2015 grew to a whopping 403 during Jan-November 2017, is brought under the scanner.

It also shed light on the count of advertisers and brands in this category which had increased from seven and 10 respectively (Jan-November, 2015) to 10 and 23 by January-November 2017. Apart from this, the data also reveals that 83 per cent of the condom ads appear during the 7.00 a.m. to 21.59 p.m. slot. The figures are based on secondages for TV.

While this recent curfew on condom ads have left brands and advertisers in a dilemma, industry experts who spoke to us believe that the solution for advertisers is switching these ads to the digital front. Nirmalya Sen, Chief Executive Officer, Havas India, which handles the media duties for Durex, says that given the real audience of advertising in this category, sensible media buying would in any case schedule spots on television post primetime. “Condom advertising could play a significant and a meaningful role in promoting safe and responsible sex. Especially in light of the fact that many men do not like wearing condoms. A ban on condom advertising could be a major deterrent in the effort to change that behaviour. This, however, is not a ban on advertising. It merely bans the advertising of condoms during hours of the day when children watch television,” he asserts.

Sen points out that it is a well-established fact that young people hardly watch television during the day. “If at all, they watch television late in the night. Hence, from a pure media planning point of view, I do not see this decision as a severe blow to advertising volumes in the category. What could impact the earnings of TV media brands, is condom makers waking up to the power of digital as the right medium to reach their audiences,” he contends. Saurabh Uboweja - International Brand Expert and CEO, Brands of Desire, seconds this and believes that the impact on business should not be too huge.

Uboweja feels that the condom brands category is a tricky one to regulate. “On one hand, because of the explicit nature of content in condom films, it may be perceived that they may not be suitable for viewing by children. On the other hand, it is important to communicate the benefits of using condoms to the masses who are likely to view ads during the daytime. There is ambiguity in the law if brands wish to take the educational campaign route to build their brands,” he says.

Like Sen, he suggests that switching to the digital medium looks like a good idea for advertisers. “The online medium is not regulated and can be effectively utilized for promoting their brands in the absence of mainstream advertising on daytime television. My sense is that their advertising budget would shift to the online medium,” he explains.

Saumya Agarwal, Associate Vice President, Vizeum Media Services, also opened up on the same. Agarwal’s opinion was no different. “Since the category communication is largely targeted towards the youth, digital including mobile, radio and on-ground initiatives will benefit. Smart marketers will find innovative methods of reaching out to their TG. TV channels may not lose much in the short-term due to the ongoing festive season. Overall the impact will be manageable,” he points out.

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