Media houses hopeful of Onam bringing festive cheer to ad sales

Print players are expecting 30-40% increase in ad sales, TV channels are charging a premium, and radio stations are increasing commercial breaks

e4m by Simran Sabherwal & Tasmayee Laha Roy
Published: Aug 13, 2021 8:17 AM  | 4 min read

As the state of Kerala celebrates Onam, media houses are optimistic that the 10-day harvest festival will bring in the much-needed cheer. Floods in 2018 and 2019 and the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 significantly impacted Onam celebrations over the last three years. This year, media houses are optimistic that Onam, typically seen as the start of the Indian festive season, will be a positive trend.

While Kerala has seen a rise in the number of Covid cases, the general consensus is that the advanced medical infrastructure in the state, low fatality rate (0.5 compared to national average of more than 1) and a pro-active government have given a confidence boost when it comes to celebrating Onam. Another impetus for consumers to make purchases are the recent relaxations in lockdown protocols with markets and shops now open six days a week from 7 am to 9 pm, with shops also open on Sundays till 22nd.

In this scenario, as brands amp up their communication to reach consumers, Print is expected to see a significant growth this year when compared to 2020. Varghese Chandy, Vice President Marketing & Advertising sales at Malayala Manorama Co. Ltd, says, “The pent-up demand added to Onam sentiment has boosted sales, motivating advertisers to use print medium for all sorts of communication during this festive period as Print enjoys the highest reach in Kerala.”

Varghese Chandy, Vice President Marketing & Advertising sales at Malayala Manorama Co. Ltd

M V Shreyams Kumar, Managing Director, Mathrubhumi Group, says that the relaxed norms will accelerate economic activity. He says, “Our sales team is quite aggressive in approaching various brands and are working towards creating a positive outlook in the market. Normally, Onam sales pick up only during the second week before Onam. The recent government decision allowing shops to operate from 7 am to 9 pm from Monday to Saturday will be a catalyst in bringing positive sentiment from consumers and from businesses, and will surely accelerate economic activity. So, our Onam outlook is positive.” 

M V Shreyams Kumar, Managing Director, Mathrubhumi Group

When it comes to advertising, the traditional Onam advertisers—players in automobile, consumer durables and home appliances and consumer electronics categories-- have already been very active along with e-commerce, digital wallets, education and confectionary & chocolates brands. In addition, with the relaxations, a larger uptick is expected from retail brands in the apparels, textiles and jewellery segments.

This uptick is expected to lead the needed revival. Says Shreyams Kumar, “Several brands in Kerala keep 25-40 per cent of their annual budget aside for the festive season alone. Coming to categories, retail, jewellery, FMCG, automobile and consumer durable brands are expected to splurge in a big way for Onam advertisements. We are quite optimistic about revival of the market during this festive period.”

With Onam falling on August 21, media players also point out that this is an early Onam. Typically, while the surge in Onam advertising is normally seen for five-six weeks, this year this surge has been curtailed to three week. Says PR Satheesh, Chief Operating Officer, MMTV, “This year Onam has come early making the festive season a short one. However, there has been a clear uptick in the last seven to 10 days. With the late surge, we are optimistic that we should get as close as possible to the numbers that we were projecting.”

PR Satheesh, Chief Operating Officer, MMTV

Adds Unnikrishnan BK, Vice President Sales at Asianet News Network Pvt.Ltd, “Business is not picking up the way it should have, but there is potential with relaxation in restrictions and we can always expect that business will peak next week. However corporates, buyers and media houses are all maintaining a cautious approach towards the season.”

Unnikrishnan BK, Vice President Sales at Asianet News Network Pvt.Ltd

On his part, Manoj Lopez, Head, Sales and Marketing, Radio Mango, says, “On the media business front, we have also seen a positive trend; campaigns and discussions for campaigns of the festive season are on. The business is looking positive and we expect it to pick up further in the coming days.”

Manoj Lopez, Head, Sales and Marketing, Radio Mango

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