Outdoor media is the most important channel of communication for political campaigns, which mainly rely on political marches, rallies, morchas, dharnas, and door-to-door campaigns to get the message across. All forms of political campaigning happen outdoors. Moreover, 2014 is particularly special because the campaigns are managed with unprecedented professionalism and there is a marked corporate flavour in the way the campaigns are being conceptualized, planned and executed.
These factors are translating into good business. Our media properties played a prominent part in campaigns of BJP, Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party.
What are some of the requirements from clients?
All requirements from clients ultimately seek to accomplish one task - scoring with the voters. They want advertising to be visible to voters. They want the media to work its magic at the right time. Typically, an election campaign follows four stages:
2) Meeting the voters
3) Information about candidate/party USP and
4) Getting voters to choose the candidate on the big day.
At every stage, we offer our clients outdoor sites/ hoardings and other media to help them achieve their goals. We hand-hold the client through the campaign, at every step from concept, to campaign. From printing to mounting of flex, and ultimately to providing post-campaign feedback.
What kind of strategies are required to stand out among hundreds of other outdoor campaigns?
Our strategy has been to coordinate very closely with clients, offer competitive rates, select media carefully and dish up the right media mix. Above all, we have been on our feet for 11 hours for the last three months to accommodate changes in plan, content and sites.
That said, the secrets of standing out in a crowded marketplace are not really new.
Be clear about what you set out to achieve. Be better at service, and with the quality of billboards and other media. Be different from everyone in the way you frame your message, offer tailor made solutions that work within the budget and out innovate the competition.
What are some of the new types of outdoor advertising seen this election season?
More mobile vans with mounted hoardings are being used in this campaign than ever before. Parties used concepts like chai pe charcha and e-chaupal and successfully harnessed cutting edge technology and offered it to voters in different parts of the country, which created quite a buzz. Even with traditional outdoor advertising the complimentary role of online and mobile media has increased several fold. These changes hint at the shape of things to come.
This time, there special creative content was designed for specific locations for better impact. There were cut-outs, LED, back-lit, 3-D and digital displays. The power of outdoor advertising was displayed like never before in this election. We could deliver thanks to our super competent media team, planners and mounters. You can see that the approach has worked from the unusually high voter turnout this time.
In monetary terms, what is the kind of boost that your business gets in election season?
All things remaining same, this election season, we expect business to grow by 50 per cent compared to the same period in a non-election year. This is, of course, a rough estimate.
On an average, how much do political parties spend on outdoor advertising?
I cannot discuss figures without explicit permission of a client but if you know the campaign expenses that are made public, you can safely conclude that outdoors gets anywhere between 40 to 50 per cent of the total outlay in a political campaign.
A question you did not ask:
How does outdoor score over other media when it comes to election campaigns?
People who step out regularly either to commute, shop, visit friends or places of worship are more likely to step out to vote on the big day too. It therefore makes more sense to invest in outdoor advertising than any other medium because the target demographic (voters) and the medium (billboards and other outdoor media) and the desired outcome (influencing voter behavior in favour of a particular candidate/party on the day of voting) are 1) in the same geographical area, 2) are likely to be the same people (people who are outdoors on other days are also likely to vote on election day), and 3) the campaign, message, brand positioning can be tailored to address the specific demographic in that particular area.
Traditional election campaigns focused on communicating achievements. This has changed as this time the efforts were on convincing voters and not merely communicating. Outdoor advertising has taken up this new challenge and done an excellent job of it.