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How do agencies deal with the pressure of making festival-based ads?

Festival, occasion, and 'special day'-based communication has become all too commonplace today. How do agencies deal with the pressure of churning these mandatory pieces of communication? And, how do they ensure these ads stand out in the inevitable clutter?

Previously, it was just Diwali, Independence Day, and New Year that brands and their creative and media custodians had to worry about. Now, there's Mother's Day, Father's Day, Labour Day, Valentine's Day, Holi, Ramadan, Christmas, Friendship Day, what have you. On each occasion, brands feel the pressure to come up with timely, occasion-based ads.

While previously, these ads tended to be transactional, call-to-action, and sales-driven, today, brands release emotion-laden pieces of communication around the festival or 'day' in question. In addition to the tight deadlines agencies already deal with, does this festival-centric advertising add yet another ball to the set agency teams are already juggling with? How do communication experts deal with this pressure? Or, when something becomes the order of the day, does it become less stressful?

Most importantly, how does one ensure one's ad stands out amidst the inevitable clutter around festival-time chaos on the communication circuit? Will anyone notice if a certain brand fails to add to the noise around a given festival?

In a quick, light round of interviews, we sourced some interesting views on the subject.

Edited Excerpts.

Navin Kansal, national creative director, Indigo Consulting

How do agencies deal with the pressure of making festival-based ads?
If it's tactical communication based on festive offers, then one just needs to get down to thinking and executing it, whatever the deadline. You can't push the festive season to a later date! Ideally, it's always good to pre-empt last-minute pressure by proactively reaching out to clients and crafting a clear go-to-market strategy beforehand.

Brands active on social media do tend to have a content calendar in place. And, festivals/occasions form part of the mix. It's an opportunity to create work that taps into consumers' passion points while being relevant to the brand ethos. One doesn't need separate teams, just a team that is sensitised and agile enough to deliver real-time marketing or planned topical content alongside regular campaign work.

Sunil Kukreti, senior partner, R K Swamy BBDO

How do agencies deal with the pressure of making festival-based ads?
There are two things which are paramount while making festival-based ads. There is a certain brand positioning that one has to stick to while doing justice to it. Secondly, the ads must also capture the nuances of the festival in the most interesting manner.

The biggest challenge about making such ads is to stand out in the clutter while fulfilling the above criteria. This is what makes any festive campaign successful.

The credit goes to the versatility of the brand custodians - the planning, creative, and account management teams, who have been communicating for the brand over the years, and hence, understand very well what it stands for.

While festival/occasion-based ads are tricky, it's good to have such challenges. Advertising is about thinking fresh each day.

Arun Iyer, chief creative officer, Lowe Lintas

How do agencies deal with the pressure of making festival-based ads?
There is no great pressure. In fact, there are more opportunities to communicate to the world what you want to say. There is no pressure as such because you know well in advance when the festival is coming. So, you can plan according to that. For instance, if we know that within two months from now there is Father's Day or Diwali, you plan your life according to that.

The brand team works on this. There is no separate team. Also, when it comes to brand recall, it comes down to the quality of the communication. That is true for any communication. What happens to the 80 per cent of the ads out there? They are all crap. So, that's why you have to make sure that your communication cuts through.

Spandan Mishra, head of strategic planning, Rediffusion-Y&R

How do agencies deal with the pressure of making festival-based ads?
We usually know with certain clients that festive work is a given - so, we prepare a calendar with the marketing team at the beginning of the FY to be absolutely clear what festivals we will be working on. Today, that means even getting into regional and religion-specific festivals such as Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Lohri, or Ramzan. This practice allows us to forecast and plan operations better and ensures that we work and are ready with the creative in advance.

We have the same teams working on it. If festive work is big brand/thematic communication (like say for a paints, FMCG, gifting, or a chocolate brand) then that's a priority brief on which we work well in advance. For tactical/offer-led communication (auto, consumer durables), where volumes/quantity are enormous, having a well-managed in-house studio team helps immensely. There are always crunch periods during festive periods, but mostly the servicing teams, the creative, and the clients, are in sync.

Sambit Mohanty, creative head, DDB Mudra North

How do agencies deal with the pressure of making festival-based ads?
There's really no pressure to create festival-based ads as they are also part of a regular brief. Usually, they are anticipated and planned for when the brand calendar is prepared.

We don't have exclusive teams to work on such ads. The creative teams that are in charge of the respective brands are the ones which create campaigns for any such occasion the brand would like to be associated with.

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