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Ad budgets halved ahead of Durga Puja

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KOLKATA: Even as the Bengali community prepares to welcome Goddess Durga, the economic recession seems to have dampened Kolkata’s festive fervour.

Advertising budgets have been slashed to half their size while companies are opting for short-term campaigns spanning not more than 15 days in a bid to save the pennies. Brands are likely to divert funds from large-scale advertising campaigns to quick-win promotions, including coupons and POS discounts so as to attract cash-strapped customers.

Sampark Adverting & Media marketing head Kalyan Brata Ghosh agrees that companies are increasingly opting for short-term campaigns. While Inter Action founder Pranatar Chaudhuri says: “The budget is very low. The biggest spender ITC Vivel is almost non-existent. Vodafone has not yet launched its Puja campaign as normally, the telecom service provider starts the campaign three to four weeks before.”

Chaudhuri adds that clients are optimising costs. For instance, both Berger and Asian Paints haven’t rolled out anything major yet. With the Pujas starting from today, the mood is rather low-key.

“We are selling off space at half the cost so that hoardings do not go blank and we earn something during tough times,” a source from an outdoor media agency reveals.

“Pujas are getting hit. Puja committees have lost clients. Money market companies, which, till last year, either spent a huge amount on the Puja campaigns or donated to big Puja committees have almost contributed nil this year,” says a media planner.

Some brands are even back-tracking as no one is willing to spend. “One of my clients got all the plans made and then backed out even when we quoted the cheapest rates,” says a source from a city-based medium-sized outdoor agency.

Meanwhile Sistema Shyam TeleServices, which provides telecom services under the MTS brand, has announced the launch of the MTS Digital Utsav campaign, near to the Durga Puja celebrations. The campaign has been specially designed to cash in on the power of the digital medium for two special initiatives: the MTS Street Food Festival and MTS Digital Pujo Awards, says an SSTL release.

Ghosh points out that most agencies have kept client campaigns under wraps and will unveil them once people start pandal hopping during the Puja.

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