Coca-Cola, Vodafone, others kick-start the season with discounts and offers

Brooke Bond seeks to promote religious harmony with its Ganapati campaign
A mobile gaming van, a Ganapati-on wheels travelling into small towns and villages across Maharashtra, campaigns espousing the spirit of harmony and celebration—the recently concluded 10-day long Ganapati festival saw brands get the annual festive show on the road. Many have announced special sales days, launched a new project or introduced a brand innovation, in anticipation of a burst of spending in the coming months. 

As is the case every year, brands use the Ganapati festival to engage with a wider audience and test the mood for the rest of the season. However, the brand turnout for 2018 seems weaker than 2017, which too many said was a watered down version of the previous years. The allure of festive branding is fading say experts; given the multiplicity of occasions and sales days, brands are running out of ideas and offers. 

Harish Bijoor, founder of Bijoor Consults says that the marketer’s responses so far have actually been boring. “It is the same old thing in new nomenclature.” He says that the same discount and loyalty packages are being trotted out and the advertising narratives barely scratch the surface, when it comes to exploiting the opportunities at hand. Unfortunately so, because the festive season gives brands an occasion to reach out to the customer. And as several consumer and brand footprint reports indicate, the more occasions that brands can leverage, the wider is their reach. 

For Coca Cola India that set the ball rolling with a Maaza-branded van full of games, this is the perfect time to pitch its wares. Maaza, the company has said, is being groomed for a billion dollar status in the country. Philips India used the festival to build its lighting label, it sent out illuminated ‘Ganpati-on-Wheels’ mobile vans to more than 30 cities in Maharashtra. And Vodafone, as it had done the previous year, provided eco-ponds for idol immersion. 

Brooke Bond ran a campaign for its Red Label tea, about bringing communities together. The ad showed an old Muslim idol maker and a young Hindu buyer deliver the message of unity and harmony between religions. The campaign has set social media abuzz and has led to multiple engagements and conversations on multiple platforms.

Other brands such as State Bank of India (SBI), Flipkart and Audi  announced special partnerships and offers. Amazon India launched a special credit scheme for its sellers. Gopal Pillai, director and GM, Seller Services, Amazon India said “We realised that the lack of financial resources can hinder the growth of small businesses, especially ahead of festive season. We aim to help our sellers overcome this capital barrier.”

Brick-and-mortar retailers and e-commerce channels launched festive season sales. E-commerce shipments are expected to increase by 60-70 per cent during the first major sale in October with total sales of $2.5-3 billion on the back of heavy discounts on electronics, says a report by consultancy firm RedSeer Consulting. Pillsbury (flour), Dish TV and others had social media campaigns for new launches and offers. Flipkart ran a special offer on large, kitchen and home appliances.

The common themes used by brands for their campaigns this year are sustainability, harmony and environmental awareness. Some have used it to offer new products while others like Brooke Bond have woven their advertising narrative around it. 

Snapdeal had a choice of terracotta Ganesha idols on its platform. Birla Sakthi Cement promoted environment friendly Ganeshas, while online food store, pitched for healthy eating in the name of the god.

Auto majors have largely stuck to the digital medium to reach out to customers. Mercedes-Benz used the occasion to promote its service network, Audi had a 'homecoming' video for Ganpati, with a tag line saying ‘Every good thing in abundance’, HP India campaigned under the hashtag, #ImpressionJamao for togetherness and joint celebrations. 

Across categories, brands are seeking the god’s blessings in anticipation for increased spending and improved fortunes this season. But they may need to substantially raise the pitch and the offers being made, if they want a fair share of the  customers’ ear and wallet.

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