Political parties get smarter about OOH

The recent State Assembly Elections are a telling precursor to the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Instead of carpet bombing with poll messages, political parties have become more strategic

e4m by Abhinna Shreshtha
Updated: Dec 17, 2013 9:24 AM
Political parties get smarter about OOH

Come election time and it is no surprise to see hoardings of political parties bedecking every available place across the city. Earlier, political parties relied more on carpet bombing the city, aiming to capture the most OOH spots. This time, though quantity still was a focus, it seems the political parties have become more strategic in their promotional campaigns. With the Lok Sabha Elections approaching closer, expect their OOH campaigns to become even more strategic, say industry insiders.

Take the case of the BJP, which hired Delhi-based Proof Of Performance Data Services (PoP), that offers brands vital insights into OOH campaigns. In August, BJP contracted PoP to keep an eye on Congress hoardings and other OOH assets in a bid to understand how their rivals’ campaigns were performing. “Data has played a very large role this year. When it comes to OOH, political parties have made conscious efforts to put up hoardings at strategic points and focus is not just on numbers,” said Harjaap Singh Mann, Founder and Managing Director of PoP.

He cites another example of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which put up flex banners on foot bridges that guaranteed them maximum eyeballs. The advantage of this approach, said Mann, is that political parties can fine tune their campaigns to suit their target audience.

More value for money
Rajiv Saxena, MD, Blue Ocean Media, feels the focus this time by political parties, at least in Delhi and Rajasthan, was on street furniture, with a lot of advertising done on bus shelters, railings and gardens, while transit media, such as auto rickshaws, were also used a lot, especially by AAP. “Transit media and street furniture makes sense for them. First of all, it is more economical than billboards and captures more eyeballs at lesser costs. Plus, it is also localised, so they get a targeted audience base and can change their messages accordingly,” he added.

Sunder Hemrajani, MD, Times OOH remarked that out of home media witnessed a ‘fair bit of spend’ this time, though radio seemed to be the popular platform for political parties, at least in Delhi. According to him, another reason for the preference of radio and street furniture such as bus stands, etc., is the ban on political hoardings outside areas such as the airport and Delhi Metro. When asked to give a ballpark figure on what he thought the total spend must have been this year, Hemrajani said that he expected the BJP to have roughly spent about Rs 4 crore, while the Congress might have spent somewhere between Rs 3 crore and Rs 3.5 crore in Delhi alone.

Elections 2014
OOH players expect political parties, especially the BJP and Congress, to get more professional as they gear up for the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. Saxena expects spends on outdoor to be higher this year for the Lok Sabha elections, with even more investment in street furniture, while Hemrajani predicts an imminent trend in cross-media advertising. “Even though they have become more professional, the quality of advertising still needs to improve. From a creative point of few, they could have done a better job this year too, by being less cluttered and focussing on local leadership,” added Hemrajani.

Meanwhile, Mann shared that PoP has discussed with BJP the strategy regarding the 2014 elections. He also said that another political party, which he refrained from naming, had approached PoP to work exclusively for it in 2014.

Even as India gears for what could be a landmark election year, it seems that the country’s political parties have realised that their audiences are becoming smarter and are stepping up their own game to make the best use of the marketing tools available to them.

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