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Home » OOH News » Maha Kumbh! Maha Opportunity!

Maha Kumbh! Maha Opportunity!

By Reena Mehta (with inputs from Bhawana Anand) - April 01, 2013

From the lens of an advertiser MahaKumbh Mela is one of its kind opportunity. This year we witnessed innovative interjection coupled with the regular outdoor campaigns as the new flavor of advertising at Kumbh.

The Kumbh Mela this year expected a congregation of more than 100 million people. From a branding angle, this provided the best visibility opportunity for any brand."It is for this reason we decided to associate ourselves with the Kumbh Mela. After all, this was indeed a huge opportunity and everyone wanted to jump in,” highlights Anuradha Aggarwal, Sr.VP Brand Communication, Vodafone. This perspective of Anuradha is an apt opener to decoding opportunity at Kumbh.It is the sheer number that makes it a must exploit opportunity.A total of 100 brands participated this year including local and national.Every brand this year, took the holy dip using OOH to its fullest and paring it with intriguing experiential and activation events.

So what is it that makes melas such as this a major marketing venue apart from the number? "For rural marketing, places like melas, mandies, haats and etc are the conversation points where you can intercept with the audience. These are same like mall branding, exhibitions happening in urban areas. Each congregation point has a different set of audience like in mandies you will get farmers, in haats you will get mix of audience like weekly buyers and if you look at melas, it has got mix of audience for different purpose like Maha Kumbh was a religious mela,” says Sanjay Kaul, CEO, Impact Communication.

While every brand wanted to take the jump, what was the kind of briefs and expectations did specialist agencies receive for making a mark at the Kumbh? Sharing his views on the same, Samir Gupte, President, Ogilvy Action says, "The brief was different across brands. But we took a stance. We knew that many brands would want to get the attention of the people at Mahakumbh. There is already a clutter in terms of direction signages, local shop advertising, religious messages, banners posters, hoardings etc, multiple messages from multiple brand will add to these clutter. How do we get out of this clutter and stand out. How do we do s omething with the brands that is far more memorable than the 1000's of banners, posters stalls and hoardings that everyone else was putting up.”

Battle of the brands

Most of the brands struggle for the mind space and eye balls. While the mela authorities only provided 30% of space for branding purpose, the challenge was to strategize campaigns to make the brand visible and relevant. Sharing a one of their strategies Sanjay says, "We had tied up with the traffic department; where we did co-branding on the police booth and we put all those brands that had co-relevance with them. Also through this, brands were seemed like facilitators. We tied up with jal board for our brand TATA Swatch, that is how they made service to the community and brand also got the visibility..”

Adding to this, Samir says, "In my mind, the only strategy was to look at other touch points beyond the place where people were taking a dip. People visiting Kumbh have a single-minded focus of taking a dip. Once they have taken a dip, they go for shopping, looking around, eating, looking for entertainment and doing other things. They are in a relaxed mood here and that is when brands should target these people. More importantly, while static messaging helps, due to high clutter one has to look at interactive activities where one can engage with the people.”

Campaigns at Kumbh

Drawing inspiration from the insight that the rural population of India love cinema and entertainment; Vodafone decided to turn a regular stall into a cinema hall. They also handed out free passes to show. The brand decided to entertain them, with a film about the Kumbh and also included some easy to understand information about two Vodafone service numbers - 121 (Made for you offers) and 123 (Information on VAS content like devotional songs, national news, sports, Bollywood updates). "The response to this activity has been phenomenal with long lines of customers waiting to engage with our brand at the VF enclosure. We engaged with at least a 1000 Vodafone customers on a daily basis through this activation,” says Anuradha.

Sharing what Emami as a brand made of Kumbh Mela, N. Krishna Mohan, CEO - Sales, Supply Chain & Human Capital, Emami Ltd. say, "Kumbh Mela is a high density event. Hence it has also proved quite cost effective to reach out to our TG at a go. Since it is Kumbh Mela, the consumers also expect a lot of hype from all quarters especially in the mode of attractive discount offers and free gifts from various brands. It's basically a win-win situation for both the companies and the customers.”

Emami conducted intensive marketing activation for two of their power brands - Boroplus Antiseptic Cream and Navratna Range (Oil & Talc) to scale up their visibility at this year's Kumbh Mela. Both the brands provided exciting offers to the pilgrims and tourists congregating during the Kumbh Mela.  "Coupled with other forms of marketing activations like Navratna's massage parlours and BPAC's talent hunt zones, all our OOH communication proved to be very effective.  Navratna scaled up its visibility in and around Kumbh Mela via wall painting, cut outs, boat painting, etc. We also introduced "lambumen” (stilt-walkers) in and around the Mela area.  Brand Navratna also did a "Big Poster” Campaign, under which we had put up about 10,000 huge posters measuring 2'/3' at various locations in Allahabad and the Kumbh Mela area,” Krishna Mohan explains.

HUL's Lifebuoy along with its key activation partner Ogilvy came up with a rather intriguing and innovative idea to promote washing hands before meals, and establish Lifebuoy as the ideal brand to do so. With Roti being a staple food served with every Indian meal, the brand decided to use a special heat stamp with the message,'Lifbuoy se haath dhoya kya?' which was served to millions of MahaKumbh audience.

Role of OOH

The brand campaigns were surely huge in scale and innovative in their ways, where OOH as a medium played a vital role in the Kumbh endeavors. "Advertisements were put up at all strategic locations like Railway stations, bus stands, outside eating joints etc. This helped us to emanate a sense that Vodafone as a brand is out to engage with its customers at the festival. The OOH along with the on-ground activation eventually created a meaningful engagement with the customer,” shares Anuradha. Adding on the same lines, Krishna Mohan says, "Since this Kumbh Mela continued for 55 days, OOH advertising got a tremendous scope of catching the consumers' eyeballs and drumming the brand into their mind over a long period of time to a large section of captured audience.”

For this event, brands were ready to impart a minimum budget of Rs 10 lakhs and onwards, where they typically used OOH vehicles including, hoardings, banners, posters, kiosks, stalls. But all of this wasn't bereft of challenges. "The main focus is to evaluate how people would react to such a thing. Are we causing them inconvenience or adding value to their life? People come from far off places, will they remember seeing something new?  We looked at all the aspects and planned our execution. It took more than two months of pre-planning before the Kumbh started,” shares Samir. Adding to this, Sanjay says, "Primarily mela administration was a challenge because their priority is to give services to pilgrims, not the advertising. So the challenge is to manure plans according to the rules and regulations.”

Getting an in depth perspective from brands and specialist agencies we also quizzed a media owner to know how Maha Kumbh benefited them. "We own BQS, Traffic Police Booth and Billboards and during Kumbh there was 100% occupancy. Most of the brands took the property for 2 months i.e. during whole mela. There were not much formats available as mela authorities allotted only 30% space for branding. Otherwise places such as entry gates and police booths were available. Also LED lights were present but they were not allotted for advertising but they were used for authority purpose. Due to this, media available in rest of Allahabad got preference. The city is not big so all arterial routes, flyovers and chowks were occupied,” Amit Aggarwal, Director, RD Outdoor Media Advertising says.

With over 100 million people and 100 brands, Maha Kumbh was surely a Maha opportunity for Indian brands!
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