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People are sick and tired of coronavirus, brands must do positive campaigns, says Shashi Sinha

In a conversation with, the CEO of IPG Mediabrands India talks about the impact of coronavirus on the advertising industry and how brands should communicate with audiences in the current times

Shashi Sinha

Brands doing excessive communication around coronavirus should gradually move away from it and start focusing on positive campaigns that have little joys of life in them, believes Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands India.

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Speaking to, Sinha said, “People are so sick and tired of coronavirus. We must do different things. Little things of joy should be the focus of campaigns. Brands should stay away from doing coronavirus-related stuff.”

Talking about the impact of the lockdown on the advertising industry, Sinha said the faster the spread of coronavirus is contained, the better it will be for the industry. “If it goes beyond four weeks, it would be devastating for the economy and the ad industry,” he said.

Sinha said that despite the misinformation about print being a potential carrier of the virus, the medium has come out as a tremendous source of credible information. “It will stand the industry in good stead in the long run.”


No one knows how things will unfold but assuming the situation comes under control after the massive lockdown for three weeks and gradually things improve in the next one month, how long will it take for M&E sector to revive?

My impression from all these trends say this is going to last longer. However, principally my answer would be the faster we are back, the swifter the recovery would be. The longer the virus stays, the flatter will be the recovery.

It is said that audiences are more amiable to ads or communication during such a time. Would you suggest brands, even if they fall under the non-essential category, to continue with certain communication? Also, is it necessary that every communication should be around Coronavirus?

I have a contrarian view. People are so sick and tired of coronavirus. We must do different things.

People want positivity and small drops of positive emotion and empathy. Whichever brand can deliver this through their product offering or communication is good. Otherwise, the advice would be to stay away as the downside to brands can be more.

One example currently is Amul. The brand is running its ads with ‘Ma ka pyar’ communication. I think it is very appropriate considering the equity Amul has in the market.

While TV and radio might be facing lower advertising revenue despite high consumption, print and outdoor are not even being consumed and are the worst-hit mediums. Print also got hit because of the misinformation on social media. How challenging will be their revival?

Like I said earlier, revival will depend on the duration of the spread of coronavirus. Shorter the effect, faster the recovery.

I must point out one thing, print has shown tremendous value from a credibility point of view, which will stand the industry in good stead in the long run.

BARC data has shown overall FCT has increased in the current week by 11%. Would you call it a relief for the TV channels?

This is before the real impact of the lockdown. Do remember the BARC data is 10 days trailing and social ads are high. Unfortunately, the data will be dramatically different in the coming weeks.

Advertisers say their spends depend on the investment of channels on content. Today, the investment of GECs on content is temporarily down. Whereas, the investment of news channels in gathering stories has shot up heavily. Do you see brands spending big on the news genre?

Yes, that is why news is doing well.

Organising the Indian Premier League looks highly uncertain in today’s time. Do you think brands would be spending the advertising money kept aside for the property on other mediums?

The money will be decided on the economic conditions prevailing in the country, along with the desire of brands to spend. It doesn’t automatically mean all the IPL money will go to the other mediums.  

Do you think India’s digital video streaming industry is likely to gain from the lockdown?

It will help. But I’m not sure whether it will become a habit as content has to resonate with the masses. Currently, it does so only with a particular profile of audiences.

Agency business is directly proportional to the economy. Is there any assessment on the impact of revenues of agencies?

It’s very early to comment but if the coronavirus isn’t contained within four months, it will be devastating for the economy and all the players in the industry, including us.

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