"Mass distribution of an election pamphlet," is how Harish Bijoor, chief executive officer, Harish Bijoor Consults describes the media blitzkrieg undertaken by DIPR (Directorate of Information and Public Relation) on behalf of the Tamil Nadu government on the occasion of J Jayalalithaa's completion of one year in her current term as chief minister of the state. Multiple ads celebrating her one year in office were seen in almost all the national dailies. And some of these newspapers do not have a Tamil Nadu edition at all.
Now speculation is rife across media about the amount of money spent on these insertions, but the consesnus is that it was significant. How does political advertising of this scale impact the brand, in this case brand 'Amma', is the question.
Bijoor says, "I don't believe this would do anything positive for brand 'Jaya'. It might create a level of awareness amongst commonfolk but it really doesn't go beyond that." Commenting on the content of these ads, he states that it is not very exciting to begin with except for the masthead. "The only thing that helps is her half-page picture that lends her some amount of visibility," he adds. Bijoor notes that only a tiny percentage of the readers, which includes people from the political space and a few critics, would have read the ad's text. For the rest of the readers, what Jayalalithaa has done in the last one year for Tamil Nadu is not of much interest.
Santosh Desai, managing director, chief executive officer, Futurebrands India, begins by calling the ads "a cut-out of a giant hoarding." He refuses to call it advertising in the first place. "In order to advertise, one tries and finds out an objective and frames a message accordingly, while this to my mind is primarily a show of muscle. It tells us much about her desire to be seen and taken seriously but not through the merit of content," he explains.
Anand Halve, co-founder, chlorophyll brand and communications consultancy, underlines why this would not be a big deal for most of the readers. He says, "While the media might estimate the money spent on these ads, a normal person will only see them as any other political advertisement. And thanks to all the political hoardings around our cities, people have got immune to getting hugely impacted by such feats by now."
On whether this would impact brand 'Jaya' and how, he comments, "The impact can only be measured when you know the objective and with political advertising, it gets difficult to gauge the right objective. Prima facie, it doesn't come across as anything different or unique from the dozens of political ads we see all the time."
Bijoor believes that in such cases of high media spend, the measurement of efficacy is easier for a brand than a political party/person. He adds, "While it certainly works in favour of the newspapers where the ads were sold, it doesn't create an impact at all. Instead, if she (Jayalalithaa) were to call a press conference addressing media on an issue of national importance, it would have given her more eyeballs since she is not known to be highly media friendly. In that case, there would have been a huge impact."
There is no denying that the ads have had some impact. "With this, she intends to tell people at large that she is significant and she wants everyone to take notice of it. Not by the specifics of content but by putting in pots of money. But it does have an impact," explains Desai.