The Kumbh Mela has always been the Indian marketing professional’s Super Bowl. With lakhs of pilgrims thronging the streets, brands have always realised the potential for engagement at the 55-day-long affair. This year is no different, with sources saying that more than 90 brands have initiated advertising and branding campaigns across mediums: From Airtel and Reliance Jio in the telecom sector, to large consumer goods brands like Hindustan Unilever, Patanjali, Colgate and Dabur.
According to official estimates, this year’s Kumbh Mela is expected to see footfalls over 12 crore, with record spending from the Uttar Pradesh government at around Rs 4,200 crore.
2019’s brand campaigns reflect the changing nature of advertising and branding too, with an increasing number of firms opting to go the digital route. For instance, Airtel’s consumers will be able to stream Kumbh proceedings on the Airtel TV app, with a dedicated special channel created to exclusively cover the action. It has also tied up with devotional content maker VR Devotee to provide content for its users.
The two also plan special kiosks at the venue, where pilgrims will be able to experience virtual reality-based telecasts of the proceedings. “Kumbh is amongst the biggest and most important events in India and our endeavour is to bring it closer to our customers,” said Sameer Batra, CEO – Content & Apps, Bharti Airtel.
As for Jio, it has launched the Kumbh JioPhone which will allow users to access end-to-end information services, including real-time travel information, helplines, ticket bookings, family locators and area routes.
Other brands have gone the tried-and-tested route. Textile giant Welspun India has launched a Quik Dry towel that it sees drawing in devotees who have just taken a dip in the holy waters. The firm has branded changing rooms next to the bathing ghat and each person will be given a Welspun Quik Dry Towel to use.
“The Kumbh Mela is centered around a holy bath, and after a bath, the first thing you reach for is a towel. Our experiential activation campaign is well integrated with the Kumbh Mela activities and is the perfect place for us to interact with our consumers,” said Manjari Upadhye, CEO, Domestic Business, Welspun India.
The company plans to directly interact with more than 5 lakh people through the campaign. Others like Colgate and Dabur have initiated sampling campaigns, with Colgate planning on distributing a few crore Vedshakti toothpaste and Dabur setting up Dabur Red toothpaste dispensers.
Industry sources say that this year’s kumbh will see major brands spending an average of around Rs 2 crore on ad spending each, with around Rs 50 lakh spent on outdoor advertising campaigns alone.