Lok Sabha polls 2014: Parties battle it out on radio waves

Radio: 'Re-invented' for LS campaign
New Delhi, April 2:  A blooming 'lotus' welcomes when you board the Metro; a big 'hand' in billboard stands tall while you wait at traffic point and a power wielding 'broom' asks you to vote for change - political parties armed with striking ads are pulling all strings to reach out to voters.

And in this poll blitzkrieg, though television, outdoor media, social media and street theater have become the key battlefields, radio has also been 're-invented' with various attractive poll-related ads and jingles.

With estimated listnership of 158 million in the country, the political parties are seizing the reach and hiring private firms for content development of radio jingles and ads to woo the voters. Out of 158 million, 106 million listeners tune to FM radio stations.

There are 245 private FM stations in India across 86 cities, including 10 in the national capital. The "prime time" slots of 7-11 am and 5-9 pm which register maximum listenership for the radio is now bombarded with political advertisements. The radio jingles timed from 30 seconds to 3 minutes are being played in every ad break, sometimes cutting the time allotted for songs.

"We provide strategic campaigning ideas to our clients. Along with designing the advertisement, we also look after the implementation and releasing part. If a national party wants to campaign in a local area, we suggest the effective use of the media there," says Pankaj Sharma, Associate Vice President, I Broad 7 agency that creates ad content for radio.

The agency is currently working on BJP's official anthem for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections titled 'Saugandh'-a pledge to the nation.

According to a radio advertising agency, BJP's ad campaign was ahead of all its rivals. "The BJP's anthem is currently trending the most," he said, adding the frequency of ads and jingles depend on financial contract between the radio stations and the political party.

"As the election nears, we have increased the frequency of the radio jingles of the political parties. These advertisements are priced at Rs 1,100 per 10 seconds. Sometimes owing to popular demand, we cut on songs and increase the frequency of the political advertisements.

There is a huge demand by the parties to play them in the prime time slot," says a radio jockey of a Delhi-based radio station.

BJP's ad campaign is ahead of all its rivals

Red FM has been roped in as the official partner of the Election Commission of India. While Congress and BJP are aggressively campaigning for their respective parties on varied platforms; their relatively new adversary, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is relying on door-to- door campaigning.

"We rely on our base of volunteers who are knocking at every door to know what people want. Our volunteers interact with the people and discuss the issues faced by them. These issues then find their way into our manifesto," says Bipul Dey, an AAP volunteer and one of the members of the party's publicity team.

While the Aam Aadmi Party sticks to its political plank of a 'Corruption free India', Congress has been focusing on a positive campaign by highlighting achievements of Congress governments in Delhi and Centre through various modes of mass media.

"Our campaigning underlines the aspirations and wishes of the people. We have an effective team of Youth Congress activists who are reaching out to masses through social media, radio, newspapers and television," says Mukesh Sharma, Chief Spokesperson of Delhi Congress.

As audio-visual media was catching up fast, even some brands seem to be capitalising on the election mode. Be it a Hero bike advertisement that urges you to vote for a talented candidate or the latest IPL advertisement that asks you to vote for Virat Kohli in good humour.

As the famous Russian playwright, Anton Chekhov once remarked, 'Advertising is the very essence of democracy'; political parties seem to be exhausting all their means to effectively use the mass media.

(Read more on LS Polls)


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