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AdStand: Radio, the new political battleground

What radio tells us is that India is now perennially in campaign mode. This is a medium that has always reached the depth of the population

Delhi | December 7, 2015

Adstand by Naresh Gupta

In Delhi, if you switch on the radio anytime, you are likely to hear a host of political spots. You would almost feel that elections are round the corner. Here’s a sample of what is being played all across our stations.

PM Modi is convincing all of us to give up our LPG subsidy because there is a lady somewhere who is still cooking using firewood. This is now a long-running campaign, and this edition is slightly better crafted than the earlier one.

Venkaiah Naidu is busy telling us something about Constitution Day, something that I found very hard to catch and understand. Clarity of spoken word is critical in radio advertising; somehow this is missing from Naidu’s diction.

Someone from MCD is telling us how hard his party is working to ensure that South Delhi is kept clean due to their hard work, or something like that. The ads actually failed to convey anything.

Two campaigns that are very noticeable are run by the UP Government and the other by Prashant Bhushan.

“Main Prashant Bhushan bol raha hoon aur main Arvind to amantrit karta hoon Lokpal pe khuli bahas ke liye” is a classical direct challenge-your-competitor tactic. Kejariwal built the whole election campaign on “Main Arvind Kejariwal bol raha hoon”; this is a clever take on his own tactic. The radio ad wins hands down thanks to the cool, calm demeanor of Prashant Bhushan and a very forceful expression of challenge. Catch the ad here if you haven’t heard it:


The second campaign worth discussing is the one run by the UP Government. This has been running now for some time; the second phase has just being unveiled with a jingle sung by Javed Ali called “Pragati Ka Shubh Aarambh”


The first set of radio ads was more about what the state can be as seen by the young audience of the state. The language is supposed to be the young people’s spoken Hinglish and some mish-mash of what the state is, what the state can be and what the state may be. It’s a long election campaign that has been running for some time now. The second phase of the campaign has moved the needle further.

What radio tells us is that India is now perennially in campaign mode, one or the other party is always preparing to go to polls.

There are some lessons that we all can derive from the political ads that are running on radio.

One, you cannot deny the power of radio today. This is a medium that has always reached the depth of the population. The new FM channels are delivering deep reach too. This is a medium that should be used strategically and not just as a medium to communicate a promotion or as an add-on to TV.

Two, the brands needs to craft a tonality on radio, and the radio tonality has to be far more in spoken word tonality. The Arvind Kejariwal-Prashant Bhushan conversation on radio is a great way to craft brand tonality, clear, clever and not backing down.

Three, to stand out on radio, you need to own a few stations and build on frequency; this is what the political parties are doing.

These are campaigns that don’t have a parallel TV campaign running, yet they are intrusive and get into our active consciousness. That is a fair indicator of the power of radio.

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