Festival Marketing: A Strategy no company gives a miss!

In India, it is hard to see a month refrained from a festival. Festivals are generally where people are at their peak of happiness. They are willing to spend and buy a lot of things. People mark their calendars if they want to make an important purchase like a car, house or something of that scale.

But these days even FMCG companies are investing heavily in these festivals. They chase the slots to be noticed be it the traditional media like TV, Radio, Newspaper or the new entrants Social Media.

Every festival has altogether different relation with people who are celebrating it. Many companies these days try to come up with innovative marketing campaign to leverage on these special occasions. In this article we have discussed few Indian as well as foreign examples and finally we have evaluated them on different parameters.

Indian Festivals 

Holi - Engage Customers 
Fanta: HoliHai!! Toh dikhao apne asli rang contest
Engagement is the buzz word for the recent Fanta Holi campaign. The campaign includes design holi wacky quotes and the winners were given special t-shirts which increases the consume involvement.

Navratri - Be Innovative 
Radio’s on-ground push: 
Tie-up with major ‘garba’ events in the locality is one of the major trends for the season. For instance, Big FM has entered into partnerships with temples and major ‘garba’ venues across eight cities. Radio City has returned with its property ‘Garba Premier League’ and ‘Dandiya Premier League’. Aforementioned events are organized in Ahmedabad and Mumbai respectively and see various housing societies competing in Garba competitions.

Innovative on-air shows:
Radio Mirchi has initiated Mirchi Musical Navras in its evening slot show Sunset Samosa. It is a nine-day series which will explore Bollywood music on the lines nine traditional ‘Rasas’. Oye! (104.9FM) has created a fictional on-air character named Jignesh Bhai to promote the Navratri fervor.

Diwali - Be Careful Coke: Do diye aur jalao campaign (Advertisement)
In Coke's Diwali Carol, the four musketeers light enough diyas to power an entire city and have fire stations on red alert. But the big question was, were Indian consumers feeling the joy? This advertisement is cashing in on the festive season sentiment.

Except that anybody who has grown up in a Diwali-celebrating culture knows that this is a with-family festival, not a go-out-celebrate-with-others one. That’s Christmas, Holi perhaps (minus the hooliganism & harassment) and yes, even Ganesh Chaturti & Puja, but Diwali? That’s for diyas & rangolis inside the house, sweets with family.

Raksha Bandhan - Use of Social Media

Cadbury Raksha bandhan: Tell your sister she is special campaign (Facebook Campaign)

Cadbury Celebrations had launched a multimedia campaign to connect the brand to the Raksha bandhan festival. Web films had been specially created for Raksha Bandhan, urging brothers to express their love to their sisters through the innovative Facebook contest ‘Tell your sister she is special’.

A unique app was created on Facebook that showed siblings wishing each other in real time with their respective locations. This app was the focal point of the activity and all the other elements are directed to this for participation. 

Global Festivals

Qixi Festival, the Chinese Valentine’s Day on August 6th (2011), Dove wanted to find a new and innovative way to promote its chocolate gift set in China. So they decide to build a story called “The Dove Story” around an artist named Ma Jin. He wanted to build a heart shaped carriage to surprise his girl friend. The strategy was to leverage the Dove’s heart-shaped gift box as a means to do that.
To garner enough money for this task, he sent out videos on the internet to amass the materials needed. This was based on insight that young lovers search online for inspiration to express their love on festive occasions.

The response was phenomenal and the sharing of videos by the netizens was one of the reasons why Dove officially sponsored the project. Dove saw a rise in sales by 226% and 3.3 million impression across all social networks. Ma Jin ended up being a search trend in China and called as ‘carriage boy’.

The critical point of the campaign was that it was well executed without spending a penny. Social media does have a power beyond the measurable to make such campaign a huge success.

Halloween is one festival where people not only get creative with their costumes but also the marketing campaigns.

The following is the print advertisement from a promotional campaign of Burger King in Argentina. The sauce dripping and the light setting give that spooky vampire look. Adjacent to it is McDonald’s advertisement. The resemblance of the same concept does exist but McDonalds has successfully used a ‘Burger’ which adds a connection to the consumer rather than a person depicted as Vampire. Comparing the following two print ads, McDonalds surely scores high on creativity.

The concept of Black Friday is the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in USA. All the retailers bombard with promotional offers and kicks off the holiday shopping season. Black Friday is the next day of Thanksgiving and viewed as an extended holiday for it. 

It is not the retailers who jump onto this concept but companies like Balance Bar Co. (launching a new product) have introduced the Balance Bar Dark Line at 50% its actual price who make purchases on Drugstore.com through December 1.


Impact for Company
Distinct feature of the campaign
Fanta (Coca Cola)
PR activity
· Consumer engagement through PR
Lack of mass involvement
Specially designed PET bottles
Coca Cola
TV ad
· Related social cause to festival
Wrong positioning
Not impactful as other campaigns
Tried to Break through the norm
Raksha Bandhan
Facebook Application
· Innovative way to target mass youth
· Zero Investment
Actual sales is questionable
Increase online presence
Use of social app for festival marketing
Radio Channels
· Celebrity endorsement
Only in metro cities
Increase in customer engagement
Tie ups with localities
Dove Chocolate
(The Dove Story)
Qixi (Chinese Valentines’ Day)
Online - YouTube
· Leveraged the heart shaped gift box
· Zero Investment
Did not implement in other countries
226% rise in sales and 3.3 million impressions
Consumer promote the brand
Burger King
· Simple and Effective
· Product analogy to the festival to depict scary face
Listed among many creative advertisements on websites
Minimal information but higher impact
· Consumer get attracted to huge discount schemes
· New product launches favoured, too
People will wait till the Black Friday which can lead a slack in sales before and after the day
Very High Sales and Long queues of customers outside the stores
High traffic for a short while leading to huge sales

Tejas Chaudhari
Anand Ingle

Article originally published in Marketing Bloggers (Competition Winner)

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