Over the past decade, Durga Pujo has transformed from a festival into an industry. We’ve all noticed the transformation, but it was so smoothly executed by various corporate bodies that we didn’t even feel the transformation happen. Do you remember Pujo in 2006? It maybe a tad blurry, but Panchami surely wasn’t such a big deal back then. Some schools would give over on Panchami. Some even had exams up to the day. It was always a quiet affair till Shashti, and rather low key.
The Pujo crowd’s penchant for pandal hopping and boasting about how many fancy pandals and idols they caught a glimpse of began only on Shaptami. Panchami now is a completely different affair. It’s as crowded and congested as the last three days of Pujo. Corporate bodies recognized the pandal hopping trend as a great opportunity to increase brand visibility and awareness and wanted to capitalize on that.
So have you ever wondered how this super-commercialization of the festivities began? Well, Bengal and parts of East India have always been big on pre-pujo shopping and we have seen brands that battle it out during the frenzy with ridiculous discounts and deals on purchases. But the commercialization of the festivities is something relatively new. Once the marketers realized the potential of pandal-hopping, they had to find out ways to increase footfall and thus began the revival of the trend of award ceremonies. By giving out various awards in different categories to organizing committees corporate bodies created a buzz around already popular pandals.
They heavily publicized the award ceremonies and the hook worked. More and more people lined up to see what all the hullabaloo was about. Hordes of curious bystanders, jam packed like a can of sardines and enveloped on all sides by relevant branding that never failed to tug at the mostly Bengali crowd’s heart strings and capitalize on the Pujo sentiments. If you remember campaigns like Fevicol’s “Don’t get stuck like Fevicol, keep moving…” or Hot Wheels’s “I’ll enter the pandal directly with my car…” or Eno’s “Learn to deal with/digest large crowds, loud noises and taxi refusals… Unfortunately all these are rough translations of perfectly captured sentiments expressed in Bengali. Once they got the ball rolling marketers realized the importance and the potential of experiential marketing in such a context and thus came a slew of on-ground activations that thoroughly engaged the consumers, like Thums Up’s “Aamader Pujo” (Our Pujo) campaign or Bru’s “Jegey otho” (Stay awake…) campaigns that involved not just sentiments but perfect incorporation of the products at the venues.
If the super-commercialization of Pujo is not something that bothers you, you should definitely jump on the bandwagon, because you know you are a marketer at heart.
Keep watching this space for more – find out next how to use the digital domain to your advantage for Pujo ’17.