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BJP vs Congress: Political advertising reaches fever pitch in high-stake polls

BJP vs Congress: Political advertising reaches fever pitch in high-stake polls

By Sonam Saini

As the battle for the general elections reaches the crescendo, with the first phase already being over and the second phase of polling slated for Thursday, both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (INC) have unveiled their national advertising campaigns and slogans.

While the BJP has chosen Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkar as its 2019 election slogan, the Congress is harping on Ab Hoga NYAY’ with NYAY being the acronym for the Nyuntam Aay Yojana. Under NYAY, the Congress promises to transfer Rs 72,000 annually to the poorest of the poor.

As per media experts, BJP s total spending on TV is currently pegged at `1,000 crore, whereas Congress TV spends are in the region of `200-300 crore. These figures are likely to increase, as the national campaigns of both the parties kicked off barely a week ahead of the elections.

As per TAM Media Research Adex data, ad insertions by all political parties on television for the month preceding the elections increased from 48% in March 2014 to 55% in March 2019. Radio insertions were down from 47% in 2014 to 40% in 2019. The share of print in the media mix has remained at 5%.

Regional parties Telugu Desam and the YSR Congress together accounted for 77% ad insertion share on TV for March 2019. The TDP alone had more than 60%. The Congress was in the third place with 7% share while BJP was in the fourth position with 4% share.

In terms of ad insertion share in print media, the Congress had the upper hand with a 23% share, followed by the BJP at 21%. In radio, the BJP led with an 88% share of ad insertions, followed by the Aam Aadmi Party with 5% share. Congress was in fourth place with 2% share.

BJP s campaign theme song, Chalo Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkar Banate Hain, emphasises the government’s initiatives in the areas of national security, women empowerment, and creating an honest government , according to BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhyay. The creative advertising mandate for BJP has been shared by multiple agencies, with the prominent ones being McCann Worldgroup India and Ogilvy India. The media mandate for BJP lies with Madison Media. The winning 2014 BJP campaign was orchestrated by this same trio of agencies.

The INC campaign, Ab Hoga NYAY, bats for justice ( Nyay in Hindi) for all, especially the marginalised. Lyricist Javed Akhtar has written the campaign song, Main Hi Toh Hindustan Hoon, while the music video has been directed by Nikkhil Advani. It highlights farmer issues, demonetisation woes and unemployment. Percept Edge is the leading agency behind this campaign and it has also created some short campaign videos. SilverPush leads the party s digital initiatives and two other agencies Nixon and Design Box have assisted in the campaign. According to INC s official statement, the special feature of the campaign is the use of a few thousand large container trucks which will tour across the country carrying illustrations on their panels on both sides.

All parties and their supporters are extensively using the social media to multiply their reach, and experts peg the total social media spend at `1,000 crore double of what political parties had spent on social media in 2014. With the total internet penetration in India having grown since 2014, from 240 million users to over 600 million as per the latest Internet and Mobile Association of India report, the corresponding spend on digital will be proportionately higher.

The medium that will see the maximum growth will be digital, especially mobile advertising, says Ashish Bhasin, chairman and CEO, Greater South, Dentsu Aegis Network. He adds that after digital, the maximum spend will be on television and out-of-home (OOH) advertising. Although multiple social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and Google are being used to reach the masses, Facebook seems to have gained the most in the run-up to the elections with 230 million monthly active users. As per Google Ad Transparency Report, political parties have spent a total of `8.63 crore on Google alone since February 19, 2019. Between February 19 and April 11, the BJP has spent `2.1 crore on Google while the INC has bought Google ads worth `1 crore.

The cumulative ad spends across parties on Facebook since February 2019 is `12.2 crore, as per Facebook s Ad Library Report. The BJP has spent `3 crore on the platform while the INC has spent `2 crore.

The benefit that social media and short-form digital videos have over television and print advertising is that of virality. Free digital media might not have commercial value attached to it, but it has an assignable value, with people sharing the content on their timelines, says Sandeep Goyal, chairman, Mogae Media.