Will brands leave the pandemic behind this festive season?

Over the past couple of years, ‘shopping local’ has been a key theme in many brands’ holiday campaigns. For example, Google’s 2020 TV campaign on discovering small businesses through search or Cadbury’s “Not Just A Cadbury Ad” and “Shah Rukh Khan – My Ad” campaigns. Several other brands, including Instagram, HP, Amazon, Axis Bank, Zee, etc., have placed a strong emphasis on shopping local and promoting SMBs in their festive campaigns, mainly due to the losses incurred by these companies due to of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But as the country puts the worst of the pandemic behind it and things return to normal for the industries, will the trend continue to dominate the advertising space during the upcoming holiday season in 2022? Some of the industry’s top creative heads think otherwise.

L&K Saatchi & Saatchi Jt NCD Rohit Malkani says, “This (supporting local businesses) is a powerful means of communication, but I don’t know if it will be a trend. Obviously, we’ll continue to see it from time to time depending on context and relevance to brands, but I don’t think that’s going to be the driving factor this festive season.

Kinnect ECD Mithun Mukherjee agrees: “Brands that offer to buy local will always remain relevant to the consumer. That said, it has taken center stage over the past two years due to the impact of the pandemic on small and medium-sized businesses. With this pitch, notable brands are focusing on supporting local businesses and helping create a slightly more sustainable local ecosystem. Yet this year, the brand battle cry would be a little different.

Taproot Dentsu Group’s Creative Director, Auryndom Bose, adds, “The ‘local store’ narrative itself began quite a long time ago with CitiBank promoting Small Business Saturdays in the US, a timely activation. of which Barack Obama had already tweeted. There have also been instances in the pre-social media era, where during a recession brands have shared and offered outdoor media space alongside big brands – shared real estate and promotion has been around for quite a long time. (However,) Scenarios have moved from just promoting convenience stores, but if a new context arises, it will be interesting to see what happens. In the end, it has to be current, that it addresses a cultural or even economic context representative of the time.

Which brands will be pitching for this festive season?

So, if not buying local, which brands will promote this festive season? Based on their experiences working with clients on upcoming festive campaigns, industry insiders believe that good old sales-focused campaigns will make a comeback this festive season.

Malkani quips: “With the worst of the pandemic having passed, there is a sense of optimism that is back in the market. Clients, in effect, no longer want to reference the pandemic in their festive communications, i.e. there won’t be many “we’re back” creatives anymore. They want to switch to different statements. Clearly, the pandemic hangover won’t be here in upcoming holiday season campaigns.

Bose shares a similar thought: “I think a lot of it comes down to basics. Now that most things have opened up, there are hardly any pressure points left. Additionally, the new normal also feels like yesterday’s news, people have shifted from talking about the pandemic to more generic celebratory conversations, and there is also a need for fresher versions of Diwali. The celebrations are definitely back in full swing and this may be the year we go back to some diwali basics and return to more celebratory and sales oriented publicity.

VMLY&R India ECD Rajshekar Patil believes personal and individual stories with an eye on authenticity will drive brand communications this festive season. “From the empathy phase of post-pandemic times, brands have shifted to a phase of optimism. Marketers want to drive growth amid the headwinds of a global slowdown, urging consumers to step out of “prudence” for “conscious consumption”. From history, we know that after the Second World War, humor had a great boom in popular culture, because people wanted to feel good. There is one possibility, we’ll see more levity this festive season. The big challenge for communications creatives is to steer clear of the clutter of the sea of ​​’emotional advertising’ that has become ubiquitous.”

Mukherjee concludes, “It would be a full-scale Diwali celebration after quite a long gap. Although the start of the year was a bit lackluster due to several global and domestic factors, momentum should hopefully pick up by the festive season. The holiday season continues to be a major driver for all brands to generate maximum sales volume. We work with several brands in different categories, where special campaigns are in the works for the holiday season. From FMCG to e-commerce, there is a surge of interest in targeting the consumer considering it would be a “true” holiday season that they would want to celebrate after a while. From films to targeted campaigns, the marketing industry will invest a large part of its budgets to seduce this consumer who is looking forward to a great holiday season.

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