Home >Industry >Media >Delhi govt likely to spend `8-10 crore on radio ads for odd-even scheme
Radio operators say Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s recent ad on the road-rationing scheme in the national capital has been his government’s most ambitious promotional effort so far. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Radio operators say Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s recent ad on the road-rationing scheme in the national capital has been his government’s most ambitious promotional effort so far. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

Delhi govt likely to spend `8-10 crore on radio ads for odd-even scheme

This fiscal year, Arvind Kejriwal's government is estimated to have spent as much as `12 crore on radio ads for govt schemes between April and December

It’s very unlikely that you’re listening to the radio in Delhi and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is not on air. That kind of presence on radio doesn’t come cheap.

The Delhi government is estimated to have spent as much as 12 crore between April, when the fiscal year began, and December on radio commercials propagating schemes initiated by the Delhi government. The estimate was provided by top executives at two radio companies.

Radio operators said that Kejriwal’s recent ad on the odd-even road-rationing scheme to curb pollution in the national capital has been the Delhi government’s most ambitious promotional effort so far.

For residents of the city and visitors to Delhi, the new year started with the implementation of the scheme, which allows cars with licence plates ending in odd and even numbers to ply only on alternate dates in a 15-day experiment.

“So far, this odd-even scheme has been their biggest spend on a single campaign," said Prashant Panday, managing director and chief executive officer at Entertainment Network India Ltd (ENIL), which operates FM stations under the Radio Mirchi brand.

Spending on the campaign launched in the last week of December could range between 8 crore to 10 crore from December to January.

According to Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, which came to power after winning 67 of the 70 Delhi assembly seats in last year’s election, radio is an efficient tool to reach people.

“Especially for a city like Delhi, radio is a very powerful medium. People spend a lot of time on roads, in cars. It is a powerful medium as you address your key constituency," said Deepak Bajpai, spokesperson for the party.

“Through radio you reach people that matter to you. TV does not have that kind of direct reach. Even after coming to the government we have continued to use this forum to showcase our policies," he added.

Around 16 million people tune in to the radio in Delhi every week. “As a party we found value for our money as we didn’t want to spend money on an expensive forum," Bajpai said.

Radio Mirchi earned close to 1 crore in revenue for airing ads plugging the odd-even scheme up to 10 January, according to Panday.

Another leading radio station in Delhi has got 80 lakh for airing the 60-second radio spots in which Kejriwal encourages people to share cars to commute during the 1-15 January trial of the odd-even scheme, said an executive who did not want himself or the station to be identified.

“They are buying 60 spots of 60 seconds’ duration on a daily basis (total 3,600 seconds/day). Their spots are scheduled evenly (and oddly!) across the day," said Panday.

A fresh set of 90-second ads is likely to be launched in the second phase of this campaign after 10 January.

An ad has also started appearing on TV since Tuesday. The television ad has Kejriwal informing viewers about the good work that has been done during the odd-even scheme and recalling an anecdote that a volunteer narrated to him.

Complying with a Supreme Court order, the advertisement does not show the chief minister’s face.

The Aam Aadmi Party has being using radio to connect with people since the campaign for the Lok Sabha election in 2014. The Delhi government has aired radio ads to promote car-free days and public awareness of hepatitis, among other things.

Media planners endorsed Kejriwal’s use of radio.

“For the odd-even scheme they wanted the response in a short duration of time because this was to last for the first two weeks of January. They needed a quick build-up of awareness, which they got. Towards the end of December, conversations in Delhi were about this scheme," said Bindu Sethi, chief strategy officer at advertising agency J Walter Thompson, part of the WPP Group.

“His entire style works. Be it engagement, personal participation, putting himself on the hot seat, he knows how to communicate an idea," Sethi explained.

Vandana Das, president of media-buying agency DDB Mudra (North), agreed. “From a government’s perspective, whether it’s a Swachh Bharat message or tuberculosis, it is about getting a captive audience and hammering the message across. The more you listen, the more you imbibe," said Das.

On the odd-even scheme, Das said that while the beginning of the radio campaign was right, it seems to have gone a bit overboard.

“In the beginning it was a welcome message and it reiterated what the government wants to achieve. It’s good to hammer the message but you need to monitor the tipping point," she added.

Kejriwal’s radio strategy seems to have worked in terms of spreading awareness and ad recall, according to top executives in the radio industry.

“They know very well which audience segment they want to target and place their ads accordingly," said Harshad Jain, chief executive officer of Fever 104, a radio station operated by HT Media Ltd, the publisher of Mint and the Hindustan Times.

The Delhi government last year drew flak for its spending on advertising. In an affidavit submitted to the Delhi high court in August, the Delhi government had said that an upper limit of 526.74 crore has been allotted for information and publicity in the current fiscal year.

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