With the festive season being much shorter than previous years, Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi and The Times of India carried ads in all their editions, inviting brands to advertise.
A high (COVID) case positivity in Kerala is keeping the advertisers away. So, the state’s two leading regional newspapers and a national newspaper together brought out a campaign, inviting various brands to make the most of the festive season of Onam. With the festive season being much shorter than previous years, Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi and The Times of India carried ads in all their editions, inviting brands to advertise.
“Advertisers have a lot of confusion with regard to Kerala – whether markets are open, the number of (COVID) cases, etc. We want to tell the advertisers that the market is open for business, and we want them to advertise for Onam. For this, the three papers that matter in the market have come together. It's basically an invite from the media in Kerala to the advertisers,” said Partha P Sinha, president – response, The Times Group.
Despite being competitors in the Malayalam print market, Malayala Manorama and Mathrubhumi have come together to issue this appeal.
“We have collaborated to communicate to the advertisers that Kerala is fully functional. Onam is a big celebration and they shouldn’t miss the opportunity to advertise during this time. During tough times, it’s good to collaborate. Times have changed and there are areas we need to cooperate with our rivals,” said MV Shreyams Kumar, managing director, Mathrubhumi Group.
Speaking on the collaboration, Varghese Chandy, vice president – marketing and advertising sales, Malayala Manorama, said, “We have collaborated for the common good. Mathrubhumi is the number two newspaper in Kerala, after us, and The Times of India has a national presence. That will help us reach advertisers across the country. We could have collaborated with many more, but there was hardly any time left because the markets opened only last week and Onam is on August 21. Therefore, we had to rush. Perhaps, next year, we will enlarge the base and have more newspapers and media vehicles inviting the advertisers.”
Being the biggest festive season of Kerala, Onam usually brings in a host of advertisers. During this time, government employees receive bonus and many also receive their pending payments. Media reports suggest that this year, people in the state have around Rs 2,800 crore as disposable income.
The ad revenues of the newspapers are just recovering from the impact of the pandemic’s second wave. However, a high case positivity in the state, coupled with constantly evolving COVID protocols, have kept many advertisers away.
Moreover, this year, the festive window is also shorter. Generally, the festive season in Kerala starts from the first day of Chingam (the first month of the Malayalam calendar) and lasts till the 10th and the final day of Onam. This can last up to two weeks in some years. However, this year, Chingam 1 falls on August 17, while the last day of Onam is August 21 – leaving only a four-day festive window. Thus, the newspapers have a very short span to rake in ad revenues.
“In my recollection, it's the shortest Onam window. Normally, the sales peak during this time and we sometimes get around 3-4 weeks. Unfortunately, this year, we only have four days. So, we want to communicate to the advertisers that it is the most opportune time for them to advertise. All stores, whether textiles or jewellery or consumer electronics, are full,” added Chandy.
Kerala’s media business has pinned its hopes on Onam this year for a strong recovery. Especially, since the last three Onams have been a washout. The state experienced heavy flooding in 2018 and 2019, and 2020 was marred by the pandemic.
Apart from this campaign, Malayala Manorama has also been conducting digital campaigns and sending digital mailers to get the national advertisers’ attention. Chandy said that these activities have helped them get the right attention. He’s optimistic that this year, they will do better business, as compared to August 2020.
Sinha also expressed confidence that the brands advertising in The Times of India in Kerala will get much better returns this year. “People purchase when they're happy. Now, after a long time, there has been a release of pressure. After the second wave, people are now relieved from that pressure. So, we are hoping that the market will be much better than what it was.”