We focused on repairing our nets when we couldn’t go to the sea - Shreyams Kumar

The great Indian festive season has started amid the COVID-19 conditions. The first half of 2020 has been a washout – in terms of business, in terms of people’s lives and livehoods getting disrupted, and the retail sector mostly shut.

Usually, the festive season is looked at by brands as a period to get maximum business when the consumer sentiments are high. But this year has thrown up some unprecedented conditions that have been a dampener for the economy so far. Though there is some scepticism about business picking up in the reminder months of the year, the mood is generally that of optimism.

The festivals of Onam and Ganesh Mahotsav commence from Saturday, August 22, 2020. Given the strict Government directives on maintaining social distancing, the huge crowds of shoppers that usually throng the markets during this time might be a little less this year. Already, the Maharashtra Government has placed restrictions on Ganesh puja pandals.

In such a scenario, Adgully has reached out to marketers and publishers across India to gauge the sentiments during the festive season this year as part of our special series on ‘Festive Mode’. Over the next few weeks, we will be bringing the views and insights from various markets on how marketers and publishers are endeavouring to trigger a revival and give a boost to festive sentiments.

Feature in the first interaction in this series is Shreyams Kumar, Managing Director, Mathrubhumi, who remains upbeat of a “bumper Onam” this year.

What is your strategy to tap into the festive season this year amid COVID-19 conditions? Any special initiatives planned?

We focused on repairing our nets when we couldn’t go to the sea. Our products and our internal systems and processes have been getting transformed, so are our attempts to launch various other initiatives, for example, Ad Impact. We are a powerhouse consisting of a national newspaper; a news TV channel; a youth TV channel – Kappa; Kerala’s leading radio station Club FM; digital assets with our newspaper portal itself delivering 12 million unique monthly visitors; a thriving social media ecosystem with our FB page alone having 4 million followers; 11 periodicals, each with their own followers, including the admired Yatra, Grihalakxmi and even Arogya Masika, the country’s largest health and wellness magazine.

Ad Impact is one of our initiatives which will help marketers achieve the full potential of our group irrespective of the size of their ad budgets. Any advertiser can give us a brief or throw a challenge at us. We will surprise them with what we can offer them. We have been able to make inroads into many new clients/ categories and we are looking at a bumper Onam.

What is the advertiser sentiment like in terms of:

(a) Ad spends

(b) Leveraging traditional media platforms

(c) Digital avenues?

The sentiments are positive. Kerala has a resilient spirit. We had the floods last year. But we still had Onam. This year, it is the pandemic. But the mood is not sombre. We are learning to deal with the virus. We are moving out, shopping, but of course, with adequate precautions. Markets are opening up, consumer demand is increasing. If the number of two-wheeler sales in the state is any indication or the number of ads that we carry as a newspaper every day across category are any indications to go by, I can only say Kerala is getting ready to celebrate a good Onam. 

Leveraging traditional media

Kerala is predominantly a print market and advertisers realise that. Unlike other markets, even FMCG brands also resort to print in addition to their TV presence. We do not think this comparison of traditional versus digital is a right way to look all these channels, at least for Kerala, as these help achieve different brand objectives. Brand owners need to worry about how the plus-plus on the base is delivering on their objective and at what cost. This is where we believe we have an edge.

Digital Revenues

Our digital revenues are projected for a triple digit growth. We are very buoyant about digital. Digital measurement is still an area of concern. While we can authentically talk about our numbers, we do not know the same holds good for the rest. We are focusing further on robust first party data pipelines and analytics to actually be able to tell our clients how our digital assets have added value to them.

What kind of response are you getting from advertisers to your publications/ channels?

Very positive!


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