No major impact on Brand Holi…

11 Mar,2020


By Sanjeev Kotnala


This March 10 could possibly be recorded as the driest Holi in the recorded history.

What governments, NGOs and schools could not do, Coronavirus did easily.

It once again proved that the human subconscious mind works on the first directive of survival. The moment it became apparent that the enemy is unknown and contagious; it can attack from anyone; fear took over.


The collective celebrations in societies like Holi Milan, rain dances and organised Holi parties were the first victims. The cheap pichkari and colours coming from China were missing from the market. Even if the colours and pichkari of Indian makes were available, the buyers were limited.

People started questioning the need for family friends gathering or visiting friends and relatives for Holi celebrations. Most decided to remain confined to their private spaces for god reasons.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that he will not be participating in any Holi celebrations. The health minister appealed for not using Chinese products. Significant events were cancelled. Talk of postponing events like IPL and Olympics was all over the media. All this further accentuated the Corona Virus fear.

The masks and sanitisers disappeared from the market. Whatever was left was killed by the reports of rising cases in media did the rest.



The digital messages and playing fastest finger first in forwarding the forward continued. I loved the message boards by Indian Express. One could have used these Indian Express branded messages as Holi wishes. It is different that none of them landed on my timeline- but the idea was excellent.


The brands and influencers rightly did not see the reason to curtail their activities to connect with audiences. Anyway, Holi dampeners started too late, and by that the time the brands were most probably ready with their intervention and did not have many options.



The Facebook film is an emotional pot pourri. But, the brand uses and possibilities are well-demonstrated in the film. It is an engaging story. Well done.

Livpure leveraged the still relevant water-saving message. Here, the children talk about water-saving by not using water-balloons. The production qualities are questionable. However, the message is right on the dot.

FBB, on the other hand, tried tackling the expected but unacceptable part of Holi celebrations; zor zabardasti in Holi.

MP CEMENT went overboard in trying to establish durability with colours and Holi. The long film has good lyrics, but the message and brand integration is forced.

MAX went too functional layering it with ‘Holi Hai rango waali’. Well, it does nothing. A waste of time and energies. Even Fanta with its absurd reasons to avoid Holi was a letdown.


The video entertainers on various digital platforms continued with their Holi messages. In a few of them, there was an attempt to add the un-necessarily communal religious angle.

Social media debate on what was right and what was layered continued. One realised that what the audience sees or interprets could be very different from the brand or communicators intent. What one controls is just the message and the media.

People have seen this communication as stereotypic communities, their reactions and expectations! Hindi and Muslim polarisation. Maybe the intent was right, but the resultant forced interpretation by many is colouring it differently.


In my last blog, I commented on the SURF advertisement as an example of reiterating communal tensions. However, I still find it one of the best Holi advertisements.

Another one that is full of colour and an extended holi and still lays the brand promise of binding the nation is the 2013 IPL film; Koi Nahi Bachega.

And I must mention the spirit of Holi and a silent brand integration is well done in the Parachute Holi ad. It would have been best if the last slate with the oil bottle was subtle.

Sanjeev Kotnala is a senior marketer and brand strategist and educator. He writes on MxMIndia on Wednesdays. His views here are personal

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