Diwali is the time when Indians shop heartily. The social media becomes a platform to announce purchase, with pictures of crowded markets, traffic jams and what not. It's a five-day shopping festival with days dedicated to categories. No matter brands wait for this time of the year
Delhi | November 2, 2016
Diwali is a great time for any brand. This is the only time when Indian consumers happily open up their purses, heartily shopping for brands across spectrum. The social media has become the platform for people to even announce what they bought, with people posting pictures of crowded markets, crowded malls, traffic jams and all the bargains they located. For the consumption society, Diwali is a perfect festival; it's a five-day-long shopping festival with days dedicated to categories. There are auspicious reasons to buy bullion, buy clothes, buy appliances, buy sweetmeats, buy crackers, meet friends and exchange gifts. No wonder brands love Diwali.
The newspapers turned into flyers
Newspapers are well and truly alive for the marketing fraternity. This Diwali the newspapers got fatter, became so obese that delivery boys needed wheelbarrows to deliver them to every doorstep. The newspapers gleefully carried multiple jackets, gatefolds, reverse gatefolds and many more innovations that we may not have heard of. What is not alive and kicking were the brands and the ideas that they put out. Almost every brand turned large expensive ads into a list of things they have to offer. From Snapdeal to Amazon to Samsung to Sony, all the brands put out were rangoli, diyas and grids and grids of product listing. Maybe, for brands the presence on print is a bigger issue than what they put out as stimulus. I hope the consumers responded to each ad in large numbers. This Diwali, one thing was clear, there is no issue with the importance of print, the ideas on print is a completely different story.
The season of giving?
Did the brands start their Diwali campaign hoping to go viral on social media? There can’t be another reason for many brands to turn Diwali into a season of giving. Culturally we are not the most giving community. The consumerism-driven society is more about consuming and less about sharing. If giving was such a big issue with consumers, then the anti-cracker campaign would have been an unqualified success. Reliance Fresh and Surf Excel had almost similar messages; make lives of people around you happier. Both brands celebrate the goodness of those who are blessed with wealth and showcase their desire to share happiness. Pepperfry takes the same thought and celebrates the joy of sharing between two roommates, one of whom is senior to the other. The battle of giving has been won by Big Bazaar. They have carried their Paper Patakha idea and given it a different spin. The celebration of Diwali with less fortunate bunch of children is very well crafted.
Celebrating personal relationships
Amazon stayed within the personal relationship space it has crafted and this Diwali is a story between father and daughter. Amazon does leave you with a lump in your throat, maybe the insight is sharper, and maybe the story is more heart-warming. Snapdeal stays within the zone of boxes with its ‘Unbox Zindagi’. Snapdeal stayed safe, but the boxes didn't light up the screen. OnePlus did an indulgent long format film about homecoming, new beginning and video calling. OnePlus did manage to tug a few heartstrings through this commercial. Was there anything like OnePlus in the commercial? As a brand it celebrates rewriting rules, this film is like what many others had done in the past. The Coke Diwali Homecoming film done a couple of years back is far more heart-warming.
Not all brands were about giving
It’s not that this Diwali most brands were on giving as a theme. Many brands were about pure indulgence and being unapologetic about it. Apart from Tanishq, almost every other brand was about being celebrating your own good fortune. Jabong turned self-indulgence into an almost new kind of social language. Jabong made its consumers selfish by turning them into a festival. The #YouAreTheFestival campaign is the other end of spectrum of what most brands created this Diwali. Did Jabong go too far in celebrating the sense of personal importance?
Netflix, what is wrong with you?
Netflix has a MBA problem. MBA is Manufacturers Belly Ache, the MBA syndrome is at full display by Netflix. The best it could do was to mock the festival and ask people to watch Netflix. As someone said on Twitter, “is this the best Netflix can do? Mock Diwali?”
Vimal Pan Masala (a category that is in all kind of wrong news) did the same with a rather tasteless Diwali ad. The line of crackers going off wishing people ‘Dumdar Diwali’ was really the worse ad of this Diwali.
Now that India’s shopping festival is over, it will be interesting to watch if the brands stay in the zone of giving and build a longer narrative around it. Slipping into indulgent territory of self-importance is easy; staying in the selfless territory is tough.
(Naresh Gupta is Managing Partner and CSO of Bang in the Middle. The views expressed are personal.)