Celebrating Onam – Part 3: Advertisers remain strong on print

Continuing with our series on how the South is gearing up for Kerala’s biggest festival Onam, Part 3 takes a look at the various initiatives that print, digital and radio mediums are taking to attract both consumers and advertisers...

e4m by Sai Prasanna
Published: Sep 5, 2011 8:58 AM  | 8 min read
Celebrating Onam – Part 3: Advertisers remain strong on print

Continuing with our series on how the South is gearing up for Kerala’s biggest festival Onam, Part 3 takes a look at the various initiatives that print, digital and radio mediums are taking to attract both consumers and advertisers…

Ads in print continue unabated
In Kerala, the print media has been favoured over TV for ads during Onam. This trend continues this year too. George Sebastian, GM (Marketing), Mathrubhumi, said, “Print medium certainly attracts more of the advertising pie in Kerala during Onam. With a readership of 68 lakh and 10 editions in Kerala, our advertisers can reach audiences in every part of the state. We get large ad volumes in Onam specials of Mathrubhumi Weekly and Grihalakshmi because of the content and large readership.”

There has been a good show in terms of revenue and the trend indicates a rising curve for print ad revenues. Varghese Chandy, Senior General Manager, Marketing Operations, Malayala Manorama, elaborated, “During Onam this year, we expect a 25-30% increase in ad revenue over our normal monthly sales, and a 15% increase year-on-year. With 50-60% of their annual sales taking place during Onam, consumer durables are the biggest advertisers followed by jewellery brands and automobiles.” He further said, “As for the paper, we have come out with a twin issue of Malayala Manorama from August 17 to September 9. The September issue of Vanitha will be a triple issue to incorporate more news as well as feature stories for readers.”

George Sebastian, GM (Marketing), Mathrubhumi, remarked, “Advertising activity in dailies and TV/Radio peaks during the last two weeks of Onam. There is good enthusiasm expressed by retail chains across Kerala; we do not see any reason to believe Onam shopping will be any less than last year. In fact, we feel it will be even better. We expect a 25-30% increase over last year’s Onam billing. Onam signifies the biggest shopping festival not just of textiles and accessories, but more significantly of categories such as home appliances, electronic gadgets, and automobiles. During the months of August and September, more sales take place in Kerala than in all the remaining 10 months put together. It is estimated that Keralites buy TV, music systems, DVD players, refrigerators, washing machines, air-conditioners and digital cameras worth an estimated Rs 480 crore during Onam. Employees of the State government and public sector undertakings are given their Onam bonus during this time, which adds to the kitty saved for shopping.” While television ads create interest, newspapers provide the connect with the audience in terms of Onam-related stories and for advertisement as well.

Shinoy K, Marketing Manager, Deshabhimani, laid out the plans the group has for Onam this year. “On September 2, we are having a mega show ‘Sound of Spring 2011’, an entertainment programme running for four hours. Our partner Red FM 93.5 will be promoting the event and also running contests leading up to it. We are also coming out with the Onam Annual Issue. There will be two magazine style issues of 225 pages each on August 30-31. Additional supplements focussing on Onam will be released from August 30 to September 9,” he said.

Digital medium gears up
The recent IRS 2011 (Q1) states that the digital medium has a CAGR of 32.5%, the highest among all the other news media. This is reflected in Kerala too with the big newspapers gearing up their new media segments for the festive season. Manoramaonline, the digital arm of the Malayala Manorama Group, solicits readers thus, “10 days of fun and festivity, 1 venue”. C Matthew, DGM (Marketing – Publication Management), Manoramaonline, states, “Onam is the biggest shopping festival in Kerala. There is a lot of advertisers’ money in the market as a large percentage of their trade takes place during this season. Many clients are going for the digital medium now to advertise as it is a good reminder medium i.e. the response is multiplied when used along with newspaper and TV. We have seen a 50% increase in ads from last year for this medium during Onam. People can check all the details on the site and there is no space constraint for advertisers.” The largest chunk of advertising comes in from white goods, automobiles, and textiles, followed by jewellery brands and other retailers. They have also come out with mailers that can be used as laptop sleeves with adverts on top.

Their print innovation has generated much interest. “Readers who visit our site during Onam can participate in the e-pookkalam contest, download popular Onam songs, learn recipes of ‘Onam Sadya’, and send Onam e-cards. We have also tied up with an amusement park which will enable anyone who registers with our online edition between August 30 to September 10 to avail a free pass and a 25% discount on the rest of the tickets. Also, we have tied up with a white goods’ retailer offering additional discounts to readers who register online with us between August 27 and September 10.”

Mathrubhumi’s DGM (New Media) Jaideep R outlines the website’s plans for Onam. “We are creating a microsite so that those Keralites who are abroad can experience Onam firsthand. Our readers can create Onapookkalams online, upload images and videos, and listen to folk songs. We have almost finalised on a deal to show an Onam film online.” According to him, there has been a 45% increase in ad volume over the last season. “Our biggest advertisers are white goods’ retailers, followed by jewellery brands, furniture dealers, and automobile companies. Around 60-65% of their total targets for the year are achieved during Onam. We have not felt the effects of the fall in markets abroad in the online medium at least.”

George Sebastian affirms, “Kerala has one of the highest internet penetrations in India, outside the big cities. With over 20 lakh unique visitors each month, Mathrubhumi online and the e-paper have been well-received by Malayalees. We have a huge reader-base in the Middle-East, US, UK and Germany, besides within the country. We have quite a few purchases happening online. Many NRIs send gifts to friends and relatives through the site.”

Brands go gaga over radio
With special Onam-related content, interviews, daily contests with heavy discounts, and a direct connect with the audience through BTL activities, ads are flowing into the radio medium this Onam. Kamalkrishnan P S, Head (Sales and Marketing), Radio Mango, reveals, “The highest volume of ads comes in from dealers in white goods as Onam is the biggest season for their sales. Generally, as compared to the other months during the year, ad volumes go up by 50-60% across all media. During Onam, we conduct BTL activities such as road shows with typical Onam symbols like Mahabali and pookkalam contests, mainly for dealers in consumer durables followed by mobile phone companies and automobile dealers. Many started off from the beginning of the month and continue up till the Thiruonam day.”

Red FM has charted a week-long fest on-air with the Onam flavour. Nisha Narayanan, Senior VP (Programmes and Projects, Red FM, points out, “We will have a combination of BTL activities as well as on-air shows with a local flavour, covering all aspects of Onam. Finance, jewellery, textiles, and white goods dealers are our biggest advertisers.”

Club FM holds several BTL activities every year during Onam. George Sebastian, who also handles the Sales and Marketing for Club FM, says, “By combining Mathrubhumi daily and Club FM, we have been able to offer advertisers a double whammy. Through Club FM, we have created a platform for listener-engagement with contests, promotions, and on-ground activation. Most of our on-ground activities happen in Kerala. Pookalam (floral designs) competitions are organised by Mathrubhumi Daily and Club FM across the state.”

On-air contests on Onam - songs, segments with cookery specials, etc are popular in the Onam menu on Club FM. In tandem with Mathrubhumi Daily and Grihalakshmi, Club FM organises live cookery contests, kai-kottikali (Onam dances by ladies), contests in housing colonies, associates with boat-races, and many more events.

“Mathrubhumi-Club FM floats that go all around the cities of Kerala are also a big draw. Mathrubhumi`s Onam promotional event for advertisers outside Kerala happen in the four metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Kochi and Chennai, where we have held get-togethers showcasing Kerala art forms like Kathakali and Theyyam”, he adds.

The station has also seen an increase in ad volume from last year. Each year, three to four brand categories contribute the largest share to the ad volume during Onam. This year, apart from automobiles, jewellery, and textiles, white goods’ brands are the major spenders. Real estate players have not yet come out with any ads as yet.

Also read:

Celebrating Onam – Part 1: White goods ad spends up 20 pc

Celebrating Onam – Part 2: Festivities galore, but shaky markets put a damper on ad volumes

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