UP govt loosens advertising purse strings ahead of elections 

As per industry sources, the state government spent on advertising in two phases — during Kumbh and after Priyanka Gandhi’s first rally — and this will get regular as we near the elections

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Feb 26, 2019 8:17 AM

Setting the stage for a neck-to-neck poll battle this year, the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh Government has loosened their purse string quite generously this year.

Supposedly, in the last 30-odd days the state government, according to industry insiders, has spent almost Rs 150 crore in media advertising and that includes Print, Television and Outdoors. The money is said to have been spent in two phases.

The first big spend to the tune of Rs 90 crore, according to sources, was spent on advertising around Kumbh Mela that took off on January 15. “It has been the most expensive Kumbh the world has ever seen with a budget of Rs 4,200 crore, which is more than three times the budget of the last Kumbh that was held in 2013. So the investment in advertisement was also huge. Adityanath started prepping for Kumbh soon after taking charge and all this requires publicity, especially because it’s a religious event which is every voter’s weak nerve.  It was only viable to spend that much money because close to 150 million people were expected to be part of the festival this season,” said an insider from the advertising industry.

The next big spend came just last week after Priyanka Gandhi’s rally in Lucknow. Needless to mention, Priyanka Gandhi’s roadshow in Lucknow on February 11 got a lot of traction since this was her first big rally after announcing her entry into active politics early this month. In a late-night development the same day, the Uttar Pradesh government decided to buy front-page jackets of all editions of newspapers printed in the state for the very next day to ensure their welfare programme advertisements would be on top of the front-page coverage of Priyanka Gandhi’s rally.

The Lucknow edition of The Times of India, Noida and Ghaziabad editions of Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, Amar Ujala, Dainik Jagran and others too had the same jacket advertisement that shouted out the same message - Naya Bharat Ka Naya Uttar Pradesh. All the jacket ads had the same pictures of Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath and a thorough account on what the state government has done in the last 22 months. The advertisement broke down state initiatives and talked about measures like the Swachh Bharat mission, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, farmer subsidy programmes and others. Experts from the industry called this a classic case of ambush marketing.

But is this trend here to stay in the political battle of 2019? The answer is yes. “As we near the election, this will become more prominent and regular,” said Naval Seth, media and entertainment analyst at Emkay Global.

“What is interesting is how this scales up the revenue for the Print media. In case of the Uttar Pradesh Government ads, a last-minute advertisement (like the one discussed above) may not cost a huge premium over because they are Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) advertisements. However, they would cost a bomb if the Congress party decides to do the same or even if the BJP runs a party advertisement and not one on government schemes on similar short notices,” Seth added.

Albeit Rs 60 crore was spent overnight, that’s not it. According to sources, the state government also committed more advertisement money to all newspapers for another 15 days as part of the commitment.

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