Political parties launch radio ad blitz ahead of Delhi elections5 min read . Updated: 25 Dec 2014, 01:21 AM IST
AAP, BJP joined battle in earnest on FM radio channels, airing ads attacking each other, as they seek to woo voters in Delhi
New Delhi: Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have joined battle in earnest on FM radio channels, airing ads attacking each other, as they seek to woo voters in Delhi before the Election Commission sets the dates for polls to the state assembly.
The pre-election ad blitz is music to the ears of executives at private radio channels, which expect to earn up to ₹ 20 crore from the commercials.
On 22 December, the BJP released four radio commercials, taglined Chalo chale Modi ke saath (let’s go with Modi), a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the party talisman.
In one, a woman vows revenge against a person who, she says, promised the people of Delhi free water and left them with teary eyes instead
Although he isn’t named, that’s an obvious reference to Kejriwal, who resigned in February after 49 days in the chief minister’s office, ostensibly because he was thwarted by the Congress and the BJP from pushing through a bill for instituting the office of an independent anti-corruption ombudsman.
The AAP came to power with the support of the Congress after finishing second to the BJP in December 2013 elections that produced a hung assembly.
The BJP radio campaign has been created by Soho Square, an agency owned by Ogilvy and Mather.
New ad spots will be produced by the agency, in addition to the current crop of commercials that target Kejriwal for allegedly breaking promises and abandoning responsibility.
The AAP, too, is using radio to extol its virtues. For now, it’s the front runner in utilizing radio to connect with voters and is expected to spend nearly ₹ 5 crore on the medium, up from the ₹ 2.5-3 crore it spent in the last Delhi elections, said a senior executive at a radio station who did not wish to be named.
Overall, FM channels are expected to earn between ₹ 17 crore and ₹ 20 crore from the pre-election advertising, according to estimates by broadcasters.
“Last time, the AAP was on air much before everyone else. They had several media and marketing professionals in the party who understood the medium and used the time bands with maximum listenership beautifully. Even now, they are advertising on non-political issues such as women’s safety, among others," said Harshad Jain, business head at Fever 104.
Fever 104 is run by HT Media Ltd, which publishes Mint.
Radio companies expect 30-40% of the overall radio advertising by volume each day to come from political parties in the run-up to the election expected to be held around February next year.
“Last time, the AAP was considered a non-entity. This time nobody can afford to take them lightly. So we are expecting growth. We are also expecting shorter ads with greater frequency. Besides, the BJP’s advertising isn’t out in full force and Congress is yet to announce its campaign," said Vineet Singh Hukmani, managing director at 94.3 Radio One, operated by Next Radio Ltd.
The AAP is currently running 20 spots each on different channels every day. This will go up to 35-40 spots closer to elections. “Once the dates are announced the intensity will increase," said Fever’s Jain.
The AAP’s radio advertising is focused on issues affecting ordinary people. Instead of direct messages from its leaders, the party is airing commercials featuring the voices of the people of Delhi on concerns like employment, security for women, water, education and governance.
These issues are being discussed as part of the party’s initiative, called Delhi Dialogue,. to create a blueprint for governance ahead of the election.
In the last Delhi election, the AAP had focused on its promise of clean and transparent politics.
“We have now established that (plank) so this time we are unveiling our policies through a staggered approach," said Atishi Marlena, a spokesperson for the party, explaining that each ad would concentrate on a targeted segment of the population.
“Each ad has someone from that segment group talking about their concerns," she said.
One ad on security, featuring the voice of a young woman complaining about being harassed by local thugs, was pulled on 12 December after Delhi Police complained that it showed the force in a poor light.
On 3 December, Kejriwal held a dialogue with voters on 98.3 FM in which he answered queries from listeners.
In the last Delhi assembly elections, the BJP spent close to ₹ 4.5 crore on radio advertising and aired some 18 spots with a total ad time of 4,000 seconds per day on all FM stations in the city, said a media buyer on condition of anonymity.
The attack on the AAP apart, the BJP plans to focus on good governance and development, besides highlighting local issues like pollution, crime, healthcare, roads and women’s safety, among others, said a member of the BJP Delhi team who did not wish to be named.
“The second part of the campaign will have ads that talk about the 49 day-AAP government and how it did not deliver what it promised," added the BJP member.
In addition, the party has a Vision 2020 plan for the capital. The party is likely to use as many as 50 spots a day per channel to communicate its message. All political ads will typically be 50-60 seconds long.
With a cumulative listenership of 15 million per week in Delhi, FM radio is the obvious choice of political parties keen to reach out to the voters in the capital.
“Fever 104 reaches out to 80-85 lakh people a week—that’s our cumulative reach," said Jain.
Given that radio access is free, the medium is excellent for political parties to reach out to the masses, including the lower middle class, he said.
In a metro like Delhi, the out-of-home listenership on mobiles is high, at 30% of the total radio listenership.
“The listenership in cars is 15% of the total and this makes radio the most potent medium to advertise on" said Jain.
In the political battle being waged on radio, the Congress, whose 15-year rule over the city under Sheila Dikshit ended in 2013, is silent.
“We are still in the process of finalizing our radio campaign. The blueprint should be ready in 2-3 days," said a senior Congress leader from the party’s Delhi state unit, declining to share details on campaign strategy and budget.
Congress spent about ₹ 2-2.5 crore on radio commercials in the last Delhi elections and is expected to spend a similar amount this time as well, said the media buyer cited earlier.
Anuja contributed to this story.