Surina Sayal

Jatras: Glowing lights in media dark areas

Nielsen has conducted a research on branding at Maharashtra's 'Jatras' or touring talkies and has thrown up some key findings

About 70 per cent of Maharashtra's population resides in rural areas and of this, 46 per cent is not reachable at all through any media such as TV or newspapers. Attempts by any other media vehicles have been inconsistent, ineffective or expensive. In such a scenario, Jatras have proven to be an effective vehicle for many FMCG brands.

Jatras are popular cultural theatres/festivals run by touring groups in rural areas and have been around for many years in India. They are the most popular form of entertainment and celebration for farmers and their families. Over time, plays and theatres have also made way for movies being showcased here.

Jatras: Glowing lights in media dark areas
In Maharashtra, Jatras are held across 75 villages for eight-nine months of the year, avoiding the monsoons. These are held around religious places that allow thousands of families to visit these as well as be entertained at the talkies (theatres).

Makeshift tents are put up on huge grounds that show movies, while innumerable stalls are also set up selling a variety of items including food, FMCGs and games.

These Jatras work as a great place for mass brands to target their audiences in media dark rural areas, considering that more than a lakh people visit each Jatra town during the main days.

Shining the light

Jatras: Glowing lights in media dark areas
Mumbai based ad agency Shri Siddhivinayak Creation, which is run by media professional and marketing consultant Mandar Dharmadhikari, has the sole advertising rights across these Jatras in Maharashtra and offers various solutions to brands that are looking to advertise their products/services in rural markets.

Advertising and branding options are huge here, including the space in and around the movie tents, at stalls, danglers, posters, banners, vans with speakers and promoters in brand uniforms.

Discussing cost effectiveness and reach, Dharamadhikari, director, Shri Siddhivinayak Creation, informs, "Branding at Jatras help build a sustainable, reliable model for media dark areas in Maharashtra. This is the only medium where the per person contact cost is only 8 paise and through Jatras, we reach out to approximately four crore people."

Jatras: Glowing lights in media dark areas
Also, if a brand ties up with the agency, it can reach out to 75 different villages across Maharashtra at once, including Mhaismaal (Aurangabad), Sangola (Satara), Pandarpur, Mohi (Satara), Varul (Aurangabad), Paithan (Aurangabad), Tuljapur (Solapur) and Islampur (Nanded), among many others.

The agency has also had regional Marathi stars such as the famous Alka Kubal (better known as Alka Tai) making appearances, handing out branded autographed pictures and movie tickets and interacting with the audience to create a buzz.

Now, the agency went a step forward and commissioned The Nielsen Company to conduct a research at three Jatra locations - Shingnapur, Yermala and Lasur. The research was done to study the impact of advertising at Jatras and the use of moving talkies as a medium of brand communication in rural Maharashtra.

The objective was to measure the impact of the medium of Jatras to promote brands across different locations in rural markets in terms of recall of brands within Jatra festival, source of ad recall, recall of ad elements and audience profile.


The respondent profile was male and female, age groups 18-24 years; 25-34 years; and 35+ years. A total of 622 respondents formed the sample size across the three rural locations.

Jatras: Glowing lights in media dark areas
Here, quantitative face to face interviews were conducted among the target group. These interviews were conducted at different points across the Jatra campus and amongst people who attended the Jatra. A small structured questionnaire, which required a response time of about 15 minutes, was put forth to respondents and the field work was carried out during peak Jatra hours, especially during the evenings.

Incidentally, all the brands advertised at these three Jatras belonged to FMCG major HUL and included Wheel, Vim, Brooke Bond and Lux.

Dharamadhikari says, "I was on the lookout for only four brands to advertise here because we didn't want to create ad clutter. Luckily, HUL chose to do the activity. Spaces were divided into each brand zone in such a way that only one brand's ads were seen in a specific part of the Jatra, which had multiple screens."

The Nielsen Company conducted the study over a two month period (March and April). The study revealed some interesting insights about the markets, their perceptions of the ads and consumption habits.

Key Findings

An important finding was that of the four HUL brands advertised (Wheel, Lux, Vim and Brooke Bond), the first three were the most recalled ads across locations. It was seen that a large portion of the recall for Brooke Bond was aided mostly because of the difficulty in grasping and pronouncing the brand name.

Wheel also had the highest ad recall of 94 per cent (aided and unaided) across Shingnapur, Yermala and Lasur and was the most recalled brand (81 per cent ad recall) in the 25-34 years age group.

Another key finding was that most recalled ad elements were those that stressed on the price or ‘value for money’ messages, such as the message for Vim bar, ‘Limbuyukta Vim bar facta 5 rupayat’ (Vim bar enriched with Lemon for only Rs 5) and for Brooke Bond’s ‘Red Label ata 10 rupayat’ (Red Label now only for Rs 10).

Also, ad recall for the Aishwarya-Abhishek endorsed Lux ad was very high, owing to the popularity of the two stars.

For HUL, the study also exactly revealed which of the specific brands did better in which market. For example, Shingnapur showed the lowest usage of Vim (38 per cent) while 87 per cent of the respondents in Lasur claimed to use Vim to wash utensils. Wheel was the most used brand (of HUL’s products) across all the three locations.

When it came to type of media, posters and banners were the primary sources of ad awareness throughout, while movie talkies had resulted in the maximum awareness in Lasur.

An interesting insight was that in all, a large portion (41 per cent respondents) budgeted 26-50 per cent of their money to only watch movies, instead of the other entertainment and shopping options.

Also, providing an insight into the viewing habits of the audience here, the study showed that action, comedy and family dramas are the preferred movie genres, where females prefer family dramas compared to action movies (which are preferred by males).

Drumming up interest

Jatras: Glowing lights in media dark areas
Dharmadhikari shares that over the past two-three years, HUL has advertised across the Jatras. Now that brands have realised the potential of the medium, more than a dozen brands have shown interest in advertising here, including Parle, Tata Teleservices, STAR Pravah, Idea Cellular and Officer's Choice.

He is glad that the Jatras and advertising in them is not only of commercial value but provide social benefits, too. Each Jatra has a total of 55 people working on each movie tent, where there is an average of about seven tents in each Jatra. The company provides them with food, clothes and their stay for the entire Jatra period across months, including their salaries.

"Only then will they come back next year to continue their job. Taking a tent from one place to another place is not an easy task," he adds.

Going forward, the agency also plans in-film placements of brands that will be advertising at the Jatras. Thus, these brands will become part of regional Marathi movies as well.

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