Lead Story

Election manna

Why media companies are celebrating the election

AP

Billy Joel must have never imagined his Grammy winner We didn’t start the fire would become an anthem in the 2014 Indian general election. But the 1989 cult hit, which has references to Marilyn Monroe, Charles de Gaulle, Ernest Hemingway and the H-bomb, among others, found its way to Uttar Pradesh last November. The Samajwadi Party released an earthier Hindi version Man se hai Mulayalam, irade loha hai for party boss Mulayam Singh Yadav’s birthday and now a 30-second version plays regularly on TV channels as part of SP’s election propaganda. That’s in addition to the 22-ad campaign and a digital book the party has lined up as part of its poll ammunition — it’s spending an estimated ₹30 crore on election advertising. Sounds like the annual A&M budget of a growing FMCG brand? Then consider the total ad spend by all political parties in the 16th general election: more than ₹1,500 crore spent in just a few months — advertising started in January and will end on May 10 (two days before the last day of polls). Of this, the bulk will go to television (35%) and print (30%), while outdoor ads and radio will get 10-15% of the budget and the remaining will go to digital campaigns.