Ashwini Gangal and Suraj Ramnath
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MIB moves condom ads to zombie time; an analysis

Will condom marketers move spends away from TV? Where will they go?

The advisory released by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting around condom advertisements a couple of days back has been the centre of several heated discussions and debates, both online and offline. In a nutshell, TV channels have been advised to air condom ads only between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am (see images for detailed statement).

Our market and the media landscape within it, is full of interesting dichotomies; on the one hand, we see webseries like Pappu and Papa (by Y Films and Durex) looking to educate children and teenagers about sex, while on the other, we have advisories aimed at keeping children as far as possible from condom commercials on television.

MIB moves condom ads to zombie time; an analysis

Screenshot of the new rule by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting
Click here to enlarge
Might the MIB's decision have something to do with the way condom ads look in our country? Then again, the kind of imagery one sees in ads churned out by the deodorant category in India are not too different, one could argue.

Most importantly, how will this development affect condom marketers, who have, to a fair extent, transcended their goal of creating basic category awareness and have largely moved to a battle for brand differentiation? Will this increase their ad spends on other media platforms?

Experts peg the condom category at around Rs. 700 crores. Presently, around 80 per cent of the category spends are on TV. The rest is split between digital, outdoor, radio, and print. If the MIB's decision causes spends to move away from TV, where will they go? Digital, perhaps?

Edited excerpts of what some industry professionals said about the matter.

Vishal Vyas, general manager, marketing, TTK-PDL, marketer of Skore Condoms

MIB moves condom ads to zombie time; an analysis

Vishal VyasA blanket ban on the condom category advertisements during the day time is unfair and not the right solution. Not all condom ads shown are vulgar or obscene and similarly, not all the ads from other categories are perfect in that sense. I believe the content of a particular ad matters and authorities should be able to differentiate between content suitable for family viewing and that which is not, irrespective of the category.

For our country, the need of the hour is to increase the awareness of condoms and not to do something which impedes this process. Actually, there is a fine line here, between an acceptable sensuous ad and a vulgar ad and unfortunately, the line varies from person to person, as it's a very subjective call. However, yes, there are some ads, I believe, that have crossed that line (again, a line drawn by me) in the recent past and that is what led to the situation we find ourselves in today. Television is a dominant medium in this category and hence, it will lose a powerful and its most effective medium; it's a big setback for the category. TV's loss will be another medium's gain. And I think the digital medium is going to gain the maximum.

Dinesh Rathore, chief operating officer, Madison Omega

MIB moves condom ads to zombie time; an analysis

Dinesh RathoreI think that sometimes, in the name of creativity, people go overboard. Earlier, even the government used to run condom ads and they used to do in a very subtle way. You have to maintain a certain dignity. They can advertise even after 10.00 pm. There is a lot of viewership even after 10.00 pm. Who says that only people who watch TV before 10.00 pm use condoms and that people who watch after 10.00 pm don't use them? It is not the end of the world for condom marketers. They should live with it. It is not a very harsh decision. There are other mediums as well with which they can reach out to their core target audience.

Navin Khemka, managing partner, Wavemaker India

MIB moves condom ads to zombie time; an analysis

Navin KhemkaStarting Monday, as per a directive issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, TV channels can't air ads promoting condoms because these are "indecent, especially for children" and can create "unhealthy practices" among them. Then why ban only condom ads? Please also do something similar with all other categories that can have a similar effect on kids. Some categories that come to mind are - deodorants, vitality capsules etc. Not to forget, the type of content that is being played on music channels - item numbers etc. etc. If we want to regulate what our kids are being exposed to we need a content regulatory body (like the censor board) for commercials etc.

Given that this is a blanket ban, it will take effect even if the condom companies were to make very 'EDUCATIONAL' commercials, devoid of all the spice. Since the ban is only on TV, there are other forms of video content that India is consuming with great pride... digital, cinema etc. So, marketers try and build reach through late slots on TV and Digital Video. The reach of digital video is increasing exponentially in India, given the cheap-data explosion. Necessity is the mother of invention. If majority TV slots have closed down, agencies will recast the media strategy to garner the audiences on other media. Thanks to increasing fragmentation, today, every media option is replaceable.

Sudarshan Banerjee, managing partner, Utopeia

MIB moves condom ads to zombie time; an analysis

Sudarshan Banerjee1.6 crore abortions happen every year in India and what we need, more than banning condom ads, is for people to be more aware of the usage. Sex education in this country is 'non-sanskari' so I am against this move. What is happening is that the condom segment, like any other category, is competitive. It has a bunch of local and international players and they have to compete. To the audience that buy condoms, the ad has to be appealing and in an attempt to appeal, different brands have different price points and TGs. Manforce will use Sunny Leone in a certain way, Durex will use Ranveer Singh in a certain way and all the other players will do the same because they are competing. If people are blaming the Playgard ad, then there have been riskier ads in the past, like those done many years ago by brands like Kamasutra; so I don't understand what this new 'sanskaripan' is all about.

This ban will affect new entrants into the category. You can't do sampling for condoms; one can go to a bar and try a new alcohol variant, but naturally, it doesn't work the same here. If no platform is left to advertise on then everyone's attention will go to digital and then the ministry will place a ban on the digital platform too. If they ask YouTube to play these ads only after 10.00 pm, then they too would be left with no choice but to air them after 10.00 pm. There are OTT platforms as well which can come under the same rules, going forward. It is just a matter of time. Once you get into that cycle, it will cover all platforms.