By Dev Batra
It’s that time of the year again! Festivities are in full swing as the country gears up for the biggest festival of the calendar year – Diwali. By now the ‘Great Indian Diwali Shopping List’ must have been agreed upon with the consent of all family members (with room for last-minute improvisations) and for a quick minute, we may be up for carefree indulgence during what’s been a tough year all around. The market preps for the whirlwind of festive ads that constitute the annual marketing ‘clutter’ – an expression generously dropped around this time every year.
What is this clutter?
For an average consumer, ads on various social media platforms to their TV sets, from their daily newspaper to the radio and the huge billboards they come across while on their morning jog – make for the ‘advertising clutter’.
With the proliferation of digital marketing, even a conservative industry estimate would oscillate somewhere between 4000-10000 ads per day, per person. This noise is compounded during the golden quarter annually when an average consumer is willing to spend more and check every item on their festive shopping list while brands do their best to make themselves stand out from the crowd- adding to this clutter.
To do or not to do?
Brands must realise that they are addressing modern consumers who are not just used to this clutter but more often than not, even immune to it. With the power of digital media in their arsenal of marketing tools, building salience as the sacrosanct brand objective can be addressed. Marketers ought to go in for a more aggressive but strategic, well-planned structure of the Rule of 16 (two impressions per week over the course of eight weeks), the outcome of which can be monitored and improvised according to different needs at various points in time.
Is it worthwhile for brands to keep adding to the clutter? In a word, yes!
A persistent advertising clutter may inspire indifference from consumers in general but it doesn’t necessarily mean lower recall for brands. I can’t help but drop a sports metaphor here. One may not be particularly fond of a sport but wouldn’t mind watching their favourite player in action. Why? Because this ‘favourite player’ connects with the audience on a level beyond the particular sport.
Similarly, just being a part of the clutter doesn’t dissuade consumers to engage with brands if what they are saying has a unique voice. From a stunning visual to a creative campaign line, a hummable jingle to an offbeat, quirky character in the brand film – if it’s unique, it stands out and modern consumers look forward to seeing it more often than not. Frequency alone probably won’t ensure conversion or salience for brands but adding outstanding creativity definitely will. Brands who successfully flex their creative powers don’t need to worry about adding to the clutter because they aren’t. As a rule, they always stand out.
The Curious Case of A Pandemic
While paranoia seems to have started giving way to a certain optimism bias, it remains as important to reiterate that we are still in the middle of a global pandemic and the current situation has only gotten worse.
From a marketing vantage point, Dussehra acts like a build-up for the main-event aka Diwali. This is the time for the Big Billion Days and the Great Indian Shopping Festivals to hit out with lip-smacking deals and fierce multi-platform marketing. Dussehra is over and we are treading closer to Diwali by the day but where are those great ads we are used to seeing this time of the year? Brands may not go all gung-ho with full page print ads and TVCs but rather focus on conversion-led platforms this year. Performance marketing is the way to go this season, particularly true for e-commerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon.
So, are we going to experience a festive period absolutely devoid of clutter then? Well, probably not. It’ll certainly be significantly lesser with festive advertising targeted to achieve specific goals that help feed into the bottom line. Media spends on various platforms will be in proportion with the ROI they offer. Hence, a strategic digital adoption is certainly the most realistic option for marketeers in the upcoming weeks.
The undeniable truth is that this year is different and this fact will loom large on this festive season. As for the business quarter, it might still be golden but will probably have a different shade altogether.
The author is co-founder and CEO, Lyxel&Flamingo