A Review of Indian Election Inspired Advertising

It's election season in India for the past few months and the topic has dominated online and offline discussions. And when elections are the central activity / attention of the nation, as a marketeer for FMCG brands, it's quite tempting to plan creatives around the topic during the season. Over late 2013 and 2014, we have seen at least 11 Indian brands which have developed dedicated commercials around the election theme. The categories have been quite diverse from noodles to electrical wires, telecom to vests. Given the marketing investment backing these campaigns, let's try to answer the obvious question: When does it make sense to plan an election themed advertising for your brand?

The role of advertising is to 1) Get a brand noticed and 2) Refresh and improve brand association using distinctive cues. This grows brand mental salience for the consumer and hopefully then grows market share! (source). In addition to the usual advertising principles (where we assess the creative within the category universe), in this case the risk of category misattribution is also much higher due to multi category clutter around a similar theme. And hence creatives need to be strengthened on their category as well as brand cues.
So what should be the criteria for deciding election themed advertising?


When the commercial is along a broader, consistent positioning of being an agent of (social) change or new ideas. In this case elections and the expected societal positive change would dovetail well with the brand's message.  Tata Tea has done this well consistently since 2007.

Havells - "Tazaa Hava Chali Hai" (A fresh breeze)
Havells has stuck to its theme of bringing freshness to the environment, this time beautifully blending this with election situations, both pre and post election. Here are the other commercials (1 and 2).

Idea - "No Ullu Banaaowing"
The ad is a part of a larger series from Idea about enabling Indians to deal with everyday lies using the internet. The election edit works well with the internet subject, Idea here indirectly enabling positive social change.


When the core brand benefit can be laddered up to any positive election emotion. This includes derived attributes like strength, honesty, stability, consistency. This is typically the model for evolved FMCG categories where the brand usage leads to an emotional pay-off (Skin Care: confidence, progress ; Fabric care: positive appreciation from family or colleagues). The creative theme has to work a lot harder in this case to link the brand benefit with the emotional idea.

Fevicol: Election Chair
This ad is probably the best creative execution of the lot with extremely relevant and humorous references to the election battle, while finding a clean spot to embed the brand benefit in the story.

Berger Easy Clean - Clean your walls easily
The sub-brand's benefit of easy clean-up has been linked with the favourite topic of corruption and system clean-up. The creative is average though.Other easy clean ads here and here.

When the brand has some awareness which can be boosted with a distinctive election execution.

Dollar Baniyan
The ad tries to play on the dual meaning of 'Fit' - fit for comfort and fit for the role. The product is integrated well into the execution and the message.

Dairy Milk
The brand has used the election theme to advertise their full collection and chosen not to develop any TVC. The executions are across outdoor and social media - distinctive and tactical.

Ambuja Cement - 'Break down unwanted walls and for strong walls use Ambuja Cement'
The brand's promise of strong walls comes through well in the executions. However the execution could have been made more interesting when compared to the other brands (view here and here)

When the brand has zero or little awareness and hence no association in the consumer's mind
- Executions with little linkage to the original brand benefit / association 

ITC Noodles - Party
The brand message of tasty, long, slurpy noodles association (here and here) has taken a backseat while the lengthy AAP reference distracts from the brand benefit.

RR Kabel (Cable Wires) - Choose your candidates well
This brand has not been advertised in the past, and linking their launch commercial to elections would not be beneficial

Hero Hf Deluxe - New Bike for New India
Hero launched the bike in March 2014. The ad recall would probably be good, but the association with the bike brand would be quite weak. And this is not helpful for a launch campaign.

What do you think? Do add your comments.


  1. Good piece, well timed. Agree with most.

    Innovation is common to almost all. Ad recall from fair to great. Brand association is achieved by hardly 10%. Multiple advertisements are more effective in brand association (as in Havells, pay the ad man more instead of the media). Goody goody ones telling people to vote is passe'.
    IDEA really stands out, cashes in on the voter who feels cheated, stirring emotional response and an impulse to buy.


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