Can media prevent audience suffocation?

01 Dec,2021


By Sanjeev Kotnala


Sanjeev KotnalaAlishan. Rokade. Talab. Nanga Putla. You may not know these names. However, if you have recently driven in and around Nagpur and Jabalpur, you will identify them as large regional brands dominating radio and outdoor. They overpower you with high visual clutter and irritate you with their high decibel-high-frequency jingles and mentions on the radio. Nothing wrong with it. Every media needs a client like these. However, if you dig deep, you will know what is wrong with this extended media approach, although it may be working for the brand.


I may be using a few regional brands advertising on radio and outdoor as an example, but TV, Print and Digital, nationally, and regionally are equally infected with the problem. The concerned media should be blamed for neither keeping the audience in focus nor advising the client.


I have driven more than 1700 km in the last two weeks. I’ve been on the road from Mumbai- Aurangabad- Nagpur- Jabalpur. As I start my return journey, I am irritatingly questioned on every turn of the highway- Talab khaya kya. And I loudly curse – Nahi khaya – and change the station.


Every milestone in and around Nagpur on the Chindwara, Seoni or Aurangabad sides keep telling me: Dhule Ka Vishwash, Alishan- Alishan, Naga Putla Chowk, Gandhibag-Nagpur. In fact, the whole of Nagpur is covered with Alishan hoardings. In dominant isolation, clusters or series. One cannot drive more than 1-2 km without seeing a hoarding of Alishan or Rokade Jewellers. And if you have FM on, you can’t hear two songs without an Alishan, Vishal or Rokade spot.


Nanga Putla Chowk. I laugh at the irony of the address. The regional Manyavar equivalent Alishan has its showroom at Nanga Putla Chowk, which is part of Gandhibagh. With Alishan advertising, Nanga Putla is maybe the most well-known landmark in the town. More than Zero-Mile, Santara mandi or Diksha Bhoomi.


I may be exaggerating, but such is the dominance.



My first question. Should one expect a local or national media brand to help brands plan and decide better? Yes, for Alishan and Rokade Jewellers the initial burst of outdoor and radio happened during the Covid times. A godsent opportunity for media houses. The brand bought large volumes dirt cheap. The communication helped the initial spike of awareness, familiarity, and brand knowledge. So much so that competition like Vishal for Alishan and for Rokade followed the tested media strategy. Now, the overexposure is not adding much. There is no advantage. I have been expecting the brand will feel the pinch. But the wait continues to be extended. I must be missing some covert business strategy, as the communication is not adding much.


Should media advise on selection, quantum, and frequency of advertisement? Should it consider advising the brand to even tone it down if it is overkill by overspending?


Trust me, I changed frequencies but failed to find a radio station in Nagpur or Jabalpur that was not crowded by the brands referred. One that did not ask at every time with its five-second type spot – Talab Khaya Kya or sang me now the famous lullaby- Alishan-Alishan. However, let me also be honest, as a family, in Nagpur, we drove down to check WTF was Nanga Putla Chowk.



And it leads me to raise a few questions that may be unwarranted or completely wrong. I am not in media sales. Maybe I am being idealistic. But bear with me and see if I make sense.


Considering their audience interest, should a media brand refuse to allow such high dominance in terms of frequency in radio or visual dominance in outdoor for an extended period. The operating part is an extended period. I have been part of buying 150-200 hoardings in a city twice in my life. Both were strategic calls and for a real short period. These brands have been on your face for far too long.


Should a brand refuse to release a creative it thinks is not good enough or unsuitable for the media? Like a short spot that comes back again and again and just asks you Talab Khaya Kya?



If they don’t. Media brands will slowly accelerate the weaning away of audiences. Not because of the content, but because of irritant dominating advertising. Something beyond the level of audience tolerance.



I spoke to many residents of Nagpur and Jabalpur. I find there is a hint of distrust building. The consumers wonder what the brands are up to. They seem to be overspending even after considering discounted media pricing and large scale buying during the covid time.


Where do you draw the line?


Where and how does one say no to such business in these trying times?


Should one even be expecting this from media brands?



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