Onam celebrations in Kerala have set the tone for the upcoming festive season in India. The advertising industry in God's Own Country has weathered the impact of the much talked about Goods and Services Tax (GST). Industry insiders say that they have noticed an overall increase in ad spends this year. At the national level, ad spends are expected to increase by 15–20%. At the regional level, the Kerala advertising industry has noticed an increase of 10%.
The usual suspects—smartphones, electronic goods, automotive and textiles categories witnessed high sales. These sectors also spent a significant fraction of their annual ad budgets on the Onam season. “Samsung, Sony and automobile players like Hero, Hyundai, Hero and Maruti were big this time. Oppo and Vivo from the telecom sector invested a lot in advertising,” said Kamal Krishnan, National Head – Media Solutions.
“It was a fairly good Onam,” said Varghese Chandy, Sr VP Marketing, Malayala Manorama. However, he added, “To make a comparison we have to compare the July to September quarter as Onam falls on different days.”
Smartphone brands like Oppo and Vivo and jewellers like Bhima Jewellers were some of the companies that spent the most this season. “About 50–60% of ad revenues were from the FMCG, automobile, textile, jewellery and telecom industries. There was a 25–30% growth in ad revenues compared to last year. Jewellery sector did spend adequately but the other sectors were much louder this time,” said Kamal Krishnan PS, National Head – Brand Solutions (Print).
Ad spends by medium
Advertising on television saw a growth of about 30–40%. The total ad spends on TV was around Rs 130–150 cr during the Onam window with about 60–65% of this spend coming from national brands.
Unnikrishnan, VP Sales, Asianet News said, “As far as news is concerned, electronic brands like LG, dealers like Gopu Nandilath, Pittapally, etc. spent good money. And Onam for us was good, rather better than last year.”
Advertising in print was dominated by local brands. About 60% of the overall advertising was from the local brands of Kerala. “Local players had a larger play during Onam this year in comparison to previous years. For example, print impact jackets were taken mostly by local brands,” said Sanchayeeta Verma, Managing Partner, Maxus South India & South Asia.
All in all, it was a happy Onam for the advertising industry in Kerala. Raju Menon, Director-Operations, Maitri Advertising said, “I have not seen anyone complaining about sales. Overall, this year people who came to shops have actually purchased and gone. Last year, there were more inquiries and fewer sales. People of Kerala had a very good Onam this year as there was no scarcity of food items, vegetables were plenty and the government was able to control the open market prices.”
While many shared a highly positive response to Onam this year, some said that the festival this year was just above average. Gopalakrishnan Nair, Sr VP & Principal Partner, DDB Mudra Group, said, “There was a mixed response. Retail business has done well. The ad spends were slightly lesser as Onam was about 10 days earlier compared to last year and due to GST and demonetisation. Onam was not all that good this time; it was just above average.”
The fact that the jewellery sector did not spend much this came as a shock to many. Bhima, a brand from this sector, was active during Onam while the rest were silent. Gayatri Suhas, Managing Director of Bhima Jewellers, said, “Sales were the usual this time of the year. Buying jewellery is a tradition in Indian society and this cannot be broken.”
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