| Goddess Durga: Ad-vantage
More than 60 community pujas in Calcutta have budgets exceeding Rs 20 lakh. Each draws around a million pandal-hoppers over 10 days. Sixty per cent of the people do not even enter the pandal — for them, the puja experience is all about the illumination and the ambience.
Armed with these statistics emerging out of a survey, an event-promotion firm is out to change the ‘look’ of some of the big pujas. Starting this time. ‘Illuminate your brand, eliminate competition’, a novel marketing move by Support Act, could be the first concerted step towards the corporatisation of Durga Puja.
“The Puja is an industry which supports millions in this state, and over the years, the para puja organisers have dug deep to make the festival more interesting for the masses. It’s time the corporate world did its bit in a more direct manner,” says Manas Chatterjee of Support Act.
The primary medium for the message is obvious — trick-lighting from Chandernagore. “The mad rush means that a large section of revellers can’t actually get inside the pandals. What they are exposed to is the illumination. The Chandernagore technicians are masters of trick-lighting, a platform providing perfect branding opportunity,” says Chatterjee.
Some of the glitter has been robbed by the problem of predictability. So, the attempt to involve the big brands, from ideas to implementation. Plans are afoot to involve one corporate house in a minimum of five pujas with an outlay of Rs 1.5 lakh per pandal. Brands like Maruti, Parachute Uttam and Complan have been approached. Sabyasachi Chakraborty, senior manager, Primesite, a division of Mudra Communications, says talks with Maruti are on the right track. “Corporate houses spend during the pujas anyway, and the illumination presents a potent marketing opportunity,” he adds.
“It’s a win-win proposition for both puja organisers and corporate houses. We get a huge financial load off our shoulders and a touch of professionalism, while the corporates get maximum mileage for their brands,” says Chiradeep Dutta of Baishnabghata Jatra Shuru Sangha Durgotsav Samity.
The brands have made their presence seen these past few festive seasons, with the cola wars, too, invading puja space. Both Pepsi and Coca-Cola ‘adopted’ a few para pandals (read: monopolising visibility with banners, glosigns and gimmicks) last year. “We have involved regional brands like P.C. Chandra, Senco and even Kwality Walls and L&T to sponsor stylised light-posts leading to our pandal. But if there is an organised effort by the national brands to contribute to the pujas, we can channel the resources towards new avenues of public aid,” says Parthasarathi Sarkar of Mudiali Club Durga Puja Committee.
Ranadhir Dhar of the Adi Ballygunge Sarbojonin Durgotsav concurs: “With soaring costs, para subscription alone is not enough to fund the festival these days. If corporate houses come forward to finance the illumination, we can augment our social-welfare activities.”
The Pujas in Calcutta have long been identified as a unique festival, the marketing potential of which remains largely untapped. “What we have till now are isolated billboards and banners, which hardly offer any brand recall,” observes Mitu Bidichandani, busy selling the illumination-sponsorship idea to Mumbai corporates. “This initiative can open doors to a whole new world of branding,” adds Sanjeev Jasani of Ogilvy Worldwide.