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Fierce poll battle comes as a boon for outdoor media in Kolkata

Elections in a democratic country like India are always a fiercely fought battle. And this battle is fought on all fronts and across media platforms. Five states – Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and the Union Territory of Puducherry – are all set to go for polls. Campaigning is on full swing and colourful and crowded rallies are the norm almost every day.

Political parties of all hues are reaching out to voters via television, digital, print and on outdoor media. Hoardings of political parties and poll candidates dot the landscape across these 5 states. These assembly elections have come as a boon for the outdoor advertising industry, which had seen almost no activity for several months in 2020 due to the pandemic and nationwide lockdown, which kept people confined to their homes and minimal traffic on the roads.

While the poll campaigns consist of a multi-prong media strategy, but the outdoor medium plays a very important role especially during elections. Normally the outdoor medium is seen as a support medium, but in the case of election campaigns, it leads from the front to deliver the message close to the where the voters stay. Visibility through colourful visuals and messages creates a lot of impact.

Among all these 5 states, the political battle is perhaps the fiercest in West Bengal which directly pits Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress Party against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The TMC is looking to come back to power for the third time and the party’s campaigning has been very aggressive, led by Banerjee.

This poll battle has led to a unique, albeit not an unusual situation where almost all outdoor properties have been booked by the political parties across West Bengal. According to industry reports, in Kolkata there is space for more than 10,000 big hoardings, of which 2,000 are in premium areas, which connect the main city with the airport. Most of these premium sites have been taken by the ruling TMC party.

Today, when one enters Kolkata either by Air, Road or Rail, one will only see huge hoarding messages of TMC. Hoarding rentals in metro cities are not cheap, hence the budget for outdoor advertising by political parties is seen to be high for the 2021 assembly polls. Data for the prices at which these hoardings are being made available by the hoarding vendors are not known, but according to media experts, they will look to make up for the severe losses faced in 2020.

With the heaving bookings by political parties, brands and advertisers are finding an acute shortage of outdoor property to run their campaigns on OOH media, especially during the Holi festive period.

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