Now playing: Maha state elections on the radio

Upcoming state poll has political parties tuning in to the humble medium for localised reach

e4m by Abhinn Shreshtha
Updated: Oct 10, 2014 8:41 AM
Now playing: Maha state elections on the radio

Campaigning for the Maharashtra state elections has started in full swing and the radio seems to have lived up to its reputation as one of the best mediums for localised campaigns.

The Lok Sabha proved the power of the radio as a medium and for the state elections; and all political parties have been tuning in to the madium. In fact, according to a source, over 45 minutes of ads are being played to accommodate all the political ads. Radio players and media planners have also noted that apart from the spends, even the approach and creativity behind the ad spots has gone up a notch.

One thing that might have spurred the aggressive outlook towards radio advertising is the relatively less time available to the parties. Since the date was announced, they just had 10-15 days to run their campaigns, which could account for the high frequency of ads across radio channels.

“I can see on radio they are on all channels. Across radio you can hear them on both Hindi and Marathi languages and even on English channels like Radio One,” said Anand Chakravarthy, West Head of Maxus India. Another media planner opined that since regional channels typically do not have a very high reach, the radio becomes the most effective medium to reach out to the electorate.

“Spends have increased but they (political parties) are also utilising the money very effectively,” said Nisha Narayanan, COO at RED FM. She pointed out that each party has created a number of different creatives with different messaging. These are also getting rotated every couple of days to address different issues. “It is a local medium so it can go across different dialects, tonality for different regions. They have been very aggressive,” she added.

Vinit Singh Hukmani, MD of Radio One said that the frequency is higher while the tone is more hard hitting. One reason for this could be that most long-standing alliances in the state have broken down and now it’s a case of every party fighting for the limited share of seats, and, limited ad inventory; a classic case of demand versus supply.

PM Balakrishna, COO of Allied Media agreed that with no alliances every party has had to take an extra step in terms of media spending for their campaigning.

“The split to some extent was a reason why spending increased since there are now more parties vying for the sae audience. However, as radio players we are indifferent,” said Narayanan.

So how does this affect the corporate advertiser? Balakrishna said that an inventory crunch was usually not that big an issue since most stations manage to maintain the balance between corporate and political advertisers. This makes sense since even the radio stations would realize that though elections might be a windfall, it is corporate advertisers who are the long-term clientele.

Some like Radio One refrain from giving discounts so as to not add to the clutter.
“Political spends in the radio industry in Maharashtra would have gone up by 20% but at a volume increase of over 40 per cent. This means that most players have offered huge discounts to political advertisers and some have also added their smaller markets free as value ads,” opined Hukmani.

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