How well did brands fare this election season?    

From Samsonite to Zomato and MTV, several brands were seen launching campaigns asking citizens to exercise their right to vote

e4m by Dolly Mahayan & Anjali Thakur
Updated: Aug 21, 2019 4:48 PM

The 2019 Lok Sabha elections has reached its final stage with the entire country eagerly waiting for the results to be announced tomorrow.

The scale of the elections can be judged from the fact that it involved 543 constituencies across 29 states and 7 Union Territories. Over 900 million voters cast their ballot over seven phases from April 11 to May 19. 

This enormous involvement does create a launchpad for the marketing world to come up with some ground-breaking campaigns for encouraging people to do their share of being a responsible citizen and cast their vote.

The election season witnessed massive participation from brands. Several of them launched these campaigns on digital platforms, while few used traditional mediums like Television, OOH and Print to resonate with their target audience.
Recently, luggage brand Samsonite posted a less than 2 minute video about the various reasons that make us travel back home - be it missing the company of family and friends or love for home-cooked food. But towards the end of the campaign viewers are asked to travel home this time for a different reason - to show their love for the nation.

The #EkDinKiChutti (a one-day leave) campaign video got more than 2 million views on YouTube in less than a week of its launch. 

E-commerce giant Flipkart also launched a one-and-a-half-minute digital video with the message that “we may be different but our vote makes us equal”. The video has so far garnered 36 million views on YouTube.

A clutch of brands such as 94.3 My FM, Zomato, Swiggy, BookMyShow, KFC India, Panasonic and Kent RO were among others who were seen reminding young voters to exercise their voting rights.

Zomato’s campaign “Zomato Election League” got them good results. In the first 36 hours of polling, 7,76,127 users ordered on the food delivery platform.

Industry experts had diverse opinions on the effectiveness and returns from these campaigns. 

Rohit Ohri, Group Chairman and CEO, FCB India’s Picture said, “These brands have captured topicality and would not involve a very high spend. It’s not that they have got on to a platform like an IPL or World Cup where there are huge spends involved. And if you notice it was mostly either Outdoor, Print or Digital. I think it is important to see who has been more effective in talking to the youth and getting them to vote. I haven't seen something that was truly path-breaking, innovative or very different in changing behaviour.”  

“It’s not always about the sales, sometimes it’s also about building brand love,” he added. 

According to Gurpreet Singh Bhatia, CEO, Livguard Energy Technologies Pvt. Ltd, the reason behind advertising during elections is to create a buzz. “We did static branding where our audiences were able to get awareness on the brand name, the ambassador and the category we operate. We partnered with one electronic channel prominently and spread our coverage in other channels as well. We came on board as associate sponsors of Aaj Tak for the election coverage. It helped us in creating a buzz about the company through branding, by playing ads on their channel and logo mentions. To cater to those who weren’t watching Aaj tak, we ensured to reach out to them by buying ads on ABP, News 24 and News18 India. Thus, during the elections we were present on four key news channels so that the brand gains visibility. To achieve this objective we spent around Rs 2 to Rs 2.5 crore during the elections.”

On brands which created an impact, Aalap Desai, Executive Creative Director - Copy, Dentsu Webchutney, said, “The MTV #VoteBecauseYouCan election campaign was one of the noticeable campaigns this year. It had a nice narrative and brought hard-hitting stories from around the globe, giving a different perspective to the democratic privileges of India. Thus, in turn, nudging you to go and vote.”

“The ROI may or may not translate into numbers but in terms of brand love MTV has definitely gone a notch above with this impactful attention grabbing campaign,” he said. 

Raghu Bhat, Founder and Copywriter, Scarecrow M&C Saatchi said, “A brand wanting to leverage election fever has to ensure that it is not seen as taking sides. This limits the brand from having an opinion at a time when everyone has one. So it gets boxed into doing a certain kind of advertising - like asking people to cast their vote. Despite these limitations, certain brands have done notable work.”

For Bhat, Tata Tea’s ‘Jaago Re’ ad stands out “as it linked voter mobilisation to their brand idea and not just a tactical exercise”.    

Asked if the brands got expected returns, Bhat said: "If done well, a brand can garner lot of social goodwill by coming across as someone who cares for the nation. This is a proposition that cuts across age, income groups and geographies and lead to lot of affinity. But to really leverage this, a brand should commit to concrete action, instead of just releasing ads.”

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