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Puja brings cheer to companies and people

October 16, 2013 15:19 IST

Puja brings cheer to companies and people

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Sheetal Agarwal & Shivani Shinde Nadhe in Mumbai/Pune

Despite slowdown, corporates are investing heavily in advertisements not just in Kolkata but also in other metros.

India's largest selling sparkling beverage brand, Thums Up, unveiled a 25-feet tall installation, 'Dhaki', at the famed Deshopriya Park Durga Puja pandal in south Kolkata on Thursday. Present at the event were Bengali film star Abir Chatterjee and a clutch of Coca-Cola India officials.

The unveiling of the 'Dhaki' marked the culmination of Thums Up's 'Amader Pujo' campaign rolled out in the city about a month ago. The brand invited consumers to deposit 'Thums Up currency' such as bottles, caps and labels in drop-boxes set up at prominent locations. 

This was then collected and handed over to installation artist Piyali Sadhukhan. The result was the larger-than-life installation representing a traditional puja drummer, a typical symbol of the festival.

Coca-Cola India Vice-President (marketing & commercial), Debabrata Mukherjee, says, "The initiative will be amplified across multiple consumer touch points, including social media, out-of-home, radio and sampling. The key intent behind initiatives such as these is to make a long-term impact and build and strengthen the emotional connect with our loyal consumers."

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Photographs: Courtesy, Coca-Cola

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Coca-Cola isn't alone. It is joined by a bevy of fast-moving consumer goods companies, automobile brands and food labels seeking to avail of the festivities to improve brand recall and push sales in a dull market. According to estimates, there are about to 3,500 pujas in Kolkata and South 24 Parganas alone, and the ad monies riding on these five days of festivities run into crores.

Traditionally, banners, hoardings, sponsorships and competitions have been typical advertising vehicles; this year, a big target appears to be the bhog, or the traditional food offered to visitors during puja days. 

For instance, Dabur India is distributing over 1,00,000 packs of Real juice across hundreds of pandals in the city, while Ruchi Soya has tied up with a few puja organisers to ensure at least one food item was cooked with Nutrela. 

This was served along with the maha bhog on the day of Maha Ashtami on Saturday. Emami is sponsoring the bhog at a few popular puja venues in Kolkata-its Healthy & Tasty edible oil is being used to prepare the bhog at these pandals.

From the looks of it, despite the protracted slowdown, the puja spirit, among companies and people alike, remains high. "Initially, we thought the pujas will be subdued this year; but as the dates drew nearer, we saw companies coming up with interesting ideas of their own," says a long-time member of the Dakshin Lake Pally Park Sanhati Puja Samiti in south Kolkata. 

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Photographs: Courtesy, Coca-Cola

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Of course, the cost of participation in such activation-led programmes is much higher than any other typical marketing initiatives, says Sandipan Ghosh, assistant vice-president (marketing, consumer brands division), Ruchi Soya, which markets popular oil and soya brand Nutrela. 

But the reach is unmatchable. Dabur India's food category head Praveen Jaipuriar says, "More than just sales, it is an opportunity to increase brand equity." Typically, Dabur India spends 14-15 per cent of its revenue in marketing activities.

Ghosh says during the five puja days, millions come with friends and family and spend a lot of time at various puja pandals. "This gives a huge medium for any consumer company. More than just a big festival, it is also a creative platform for companies like ours," says Ghosh, adding the company spent 60-70 per cent of its total marketing budget during Durga puja, as Kolkata and adjoining markets were among its strongest bases.

At this time of the year, Kolkata isn't the sole hub of such activity. Advertisers are targeting Durga puja celebrations in cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, too.
Durga puja has actually surpassed boundaries and entered cities such as Delhi and Mumbai. Places such as ChittaranjanPark in Delhi are known for grand pujas, adds Jaipuriar of Dabur, which is distributing juices at a few New Delhi pandals.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Dabur

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While fast food and soft-drink brands and leading restaurants are known to put up stalls at puja venues, these days, one also sees automobile giants such as Hyundai and Toyota jostling for space at puja pandals in Chittaranjan Park or other areas in the National Capital Region such as Noida and Gurgaon. 

"More than 80 per cent of the funds used to organise the pujas now come from the corporate sector; earlier, it was 50:50 between private donations and corporate participation. Given their growing importance, we are assigning them stalls at spots that have high visibility."

An analyst says one of the biggest advantages in associating with Durga puja is the festival is celebrated for five days. "You may spend the same amount of money you spend during Diwali, but the opportunity to see and the impact is much larger."


Photographs: Reuters

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