Special TV programs and host of shopping options is the new definition of Onam

Onam is celebrated in Kerala for ten days which falls in the Malayalam month of Chingam and denotes the homecoming of the legendary King Mahabali. It is a rice harvest festival and falls somewhere between August and September. This year it will be celebrated on 23rd August 2010 onwards. The legendary King Mahabali reigned over Kerala in its prime when the state was happy and extremely affluent. According to the legend, the King was so popular with his subjects that even the Gods under Indra became jealous of him. So they approached Mahavishnu and alleged that Mahabali was a peril to them. Mahavishnu appeared before King Mahabali, masquerading as a little boy and tricked him to Pathalam, the Underworld. Although Mahavisnhu did grant him a boon which was that he could annually visit his people with whom he was so devoted to.

Malayalees all over the world celebrate Onam every year on this day when King Mahabali is believed to visit the state to show him that they are happy and well.

So that is the legend but today how many Keralites know the significance of this festival? Long gone are the days when a malayalee woke up on Onam and looked forward to the usual cultural activates like dances and boat races etc. Today apart from the simple but traditional "sadya' which is a sumptuous feast prepared specially, the only thing one looks forward to are the special shows which will telecast on television and of course the various array of products that will be on sale.

Today in a world which is driven by marketing and promotion where products are disguised to look attractive enough to lure in consumers, (much like the disguise of Mahavishnu!); the marketers have chanced upon this occasion to be as innovative as possible to bring in more participation from their valued customers.

Speaking to Adgully on the various initiatives undertaken for Onam, Ramesh Subramaniam, Head Marketing, MM TV said "There were print and online campaigns on the aspect of Onam". Much to our belief even Subramaniam describes the festival and says "Kerala's No.1 shopping season." He further explains "Yes, Onam is the largest shopping season in Kerala, be it villages, towns or cities people love to shop for their loved ones during the season and Manorama News is the best medium to reach out to the affluent upwardly mobile malayali without any wastage". To capitalize on the advertising revenue and to attract advertisers and marketers attention, MM TV had come up with various marketing and advertising activities targeting the advertising and marketing community. "Print ads were released in all the reputed trade and business magazines and news papers directly targeting the advertisers and consumers, Online campaigns on the same were activated in almost all the major marketing and advertising portals, E mailers were sent directly to the trade and advertisers" adds Subramaniam.

Also many channels change the programming to cater to the mood of the festival.

"In the viewer perspective Kerala's No.1 news channel - Manorama News had come up with a bunch of special programs for Onam like Onavipani, Makkal, Kanjeepuram, Kavyamanasam etc", further added, Subramaniam.

For the consumers, Club FM, Mathrubhumi"s FM brand has come up with numerous initiatives for this festive season and has actually been in the forefront of Onam related activities in Kerala. Some of the shows are Dosa-priyan-Maveli, Onathambola etc. They have also launched products in the digital space covering almost every area of interest.

Speaking to Adgully, Sreyamskumar, Director-Marketing of Mathrubhumi Group, says "We are moving with the times, providing various platforms for advertisers to connect with target segments- more effectively, and efficiently. The dynamics of media marketing has changed. I exhort the sales team to constantly endeavor to provide knowledge-based solutions rather than mere information-based selling."

Channels have gone across mediums to rope in maximum participation from the consumers.

A Senior Marketing person from Asianet, said "Being the front runner among regional channels we on our part entertain our viewers by showing number of variety entertainments .The programs range from celebrity chat shows, musical shows, comedy skits, other entertainments to latest hit movies, we are sure that with these varied entertainment we will be able to hold the audience to our fold"

Most media channels are singing in the same tune with the basic aim to bring in more consumers. Will there soon be a time when all festivals regardless of region and caste be celebrated by switching channels as everything they could dream of is being offered by one medium?

The future is definitely dictated by the marketers, it is only a matter of time before festivals are synonymous with sales and special programming, if it's not that way already. | By Janees Antoo [janees(at)adgully.com]


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