DAN Interviews

Ashish Bhasin: DAN: Inputs on a slow yet steady Diwali for the ad industry

07 Nov 2019

Expected to close on a growth rate in the single digit, the country’s biggest festival came as a saviour for the industry struggling due to a slowdown in the economy

It was indeed a happy Diwali for many in the ad industry but a few believe it could have been happier. While it did bring cheer to the otherwise muted market, for a few in the industry it still fell short on expectations. Expected to close on a growth rate in the single digit, the country’s biggest festival came as a saviour for the industry struggling due to a slowdown in the economy.

While most agencies are still working on the numbers, going by estimates, they feel the festive season gave them 10-15 per cent less than expected.

Striking an optimistic note, Ashish Bhasin, CEO APAC and Chairman India, Dentsu Aegis Network, said that if you compare Diwali vs Diwali, things weren’t bad. “If a regular year sees 20 per cent growth, this saw 10 per cent. But overall there was growth,” he said.

However, media expert Anita Nayyar said: “It was an average and muted Diwali. The feel it gave was better than what was going on in the market before that. There have been festive spends but not as much as last year. If I compare, it was down by upto 15 per cent from last Diwali,” says.

Most agencies, refused to speak on record but shared similar views. “It surely has not been a bumper Diwali and now we are left with two months to make as much as we can of the festive season. Almost 40 per cent of the advertising business is done during this period, of which more than half the season has gone by without yielding much,” said a senior industry person who did not wish to be quoted.

This year, the sector that was most aggressive with the spends was e-commerce. Besides ecommerce, mobile phone brands, consumer deliverables and FMCG sector are believed to have pushed the growth numbers to that single digit.

With the economy hit by a slowdown, sectors like real estate, automobile and jewellery, which are driven by consumer sentiments and mostly see a boost during festive times, in particular did not spend as much as they otherwise would. There were barely any new launches by either auto or real estate sector throughout the season. “Sectors like real estate, jewellery and retail were clearly missing from the picture,” Bhasin added.

Talking about real estate, Navin Thakur, Head Marketing, Vascon Engineers Ltd, explained how a dip in consumer confidence in the economy impacts the decision to make any high-ticket purchases. “Currently, with the economic environment and tough times in many sectors, the sentiments are not optimistic and this reflects on the lesser number of new launches. There is buying but it is of more cautious nature and mostly for end use. Investors are putting decisions on hold and this is forcing marketers to be more careful on the spends,” he said.

With an eye on ROI, marketers are spending tactically on media and staying away from ‘flamboyant campaigns’, Thakur added.

Perhaps keeping the same in mind, Kalyan Jewellers, for instance, launched multiple campaigns and spread it out throughout the season. “We effectively used an integrated approach with multiple campaigns targeting different consumer segments through an appropriate mix of traditional and new age media. The brand has used multiple online and offline campaigns to target various consumer segments,” said T S Kalyanaraman, Chairman and Managing Director, Kalyan Jewellers.

However, contrary to most claims, Kalyanaraman maintains that their brand witnessed a double-digit growth during Dhanteras and Diwali. “The Shubh Muhurat associated with buying jewellery on Dhanteras began on Friday evening and continued till Saturday, and this proved to be an advantage for us this year,” he added.