Benita Chacko

Onam ad spends continue to rise; yet to reach pre-pandemic levels

After three years of dampened festivity, Kerala is once again celebrating its harvest festival with full gusto.

After three years of dampened Onam celebrations owing to the floods and the Covid19 pandemic, festivities are now returning to its previous gusto in Kerala. With the festive cheer charging the consumers’ spirits, brands have also increased their ad spends. While the advertising has increased since the last Onam season, industry experts feel it is not as much as was expected.

Onam, the harvest festival, is one of the most important festivals in the southern state. It is also believed to be the homecoming of Mahabali, a mythical king who ruled Kerala. The festivities begin from the first day of the new year of the Malayalam calendar (falling on August 17 of the Gregorian calendar) and ending with Thiruvonam (the 10th day of Onam), which falls on September 8 this year.

Onam ad spends continue to rise; yet to reach pre-pandemic levels

During this period, brands have brought out different offers and new launches to attract consumers. has specially curated an ‘Onam Store’ that has products ranging from pooja to sadya essentials, ethnic wear, electronics, home décor, home and kitchen appliances, smartphones, accessories. OYO announced discounted stays, starting from Rs 399, for its guests in South India. Sleepwell is giving consumers a chance to win a gold coin and other free gifts.

With the concerns around Covid19 abating, ad spends have significantly increased since last year. However, marketers are still remaining cautious.

Mac Machaiah
Mac Machaiah

“Marketers are approaching Onam with slight caution this year. Although this year’s Onam will be better than the last three years, the buoyancy of pre-covid is missing. Liquidity seems to be a problem due to high inflation, added to that the torrential rains in the last two weeks is dampening the overall festivity,” said Mac Machaiah, chief client officer and office head – South, Wavemaker India.

Mathrubhumi has witnessed at least a 50-60% increase in its advertising compared to last year’s Onam season. However, it is yet to reach the pre-pandemic levels. “The response has been good, but it is not up to our expectations. We have recovered upto 70% of the pre-pandemic levels,” said Sudeep Kumar, general manager, Mathrubhumi.

Varghese Chandy
Varghese Chandy

Meanwhile, Malayala Manorama has witnessed a 30% growth in ad revenue since last year. “Despite the heavy rains in the state, the response has been very good this year. Our objective is to get back to our 2019 levels and we are hoping to do it,” said Varghese Chandy, Vice President, Marketing & Advertising-Sales, at Malayala Manorama.

This year the Onam window (from the first day of the new year to the last day of Onam) is relatively longer. Having a longer window helps, as brands have a longer period to advertise. The festive advertising is expected to continue till the month end. Last year, Onam fell within a week of the start of the new year, leaving a very short window for brands to reach out to the consumers.

This period witnesses an increased frenzy across categories, but the big spenders remain textiles, jewellery, automobiles and consumer durables. However, this year, some of these categories did not advertise as much.

“Textiles usually do well around Onam. But this time it was a sad story. They haven’t recovered fully. While retailers like Reliance Trends advertised, the local players were not very active. Similarly automobiles also didn’t advertise much,” adds Kumar.

Chandy says except for a few brands, most of the advertising was from local brands. However, consumer durables and appliances brands were not directly advertising. Instead they made their presence felt through retailers. “Except for a couple of brands, most were advertising through their association with retailers,” he said.

“Retailers are upbeat this year and their advertising investments have gone up (compared to last 2 years) and national advertisers have also upped their spend to threshold levels. There is an increase in flow of goods to retailers, we have to wait and watch on the overall sales,” adds Machaiah.

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