Inside the grandeur of Durga Pujo marketing fare

For marketers, the larger objective during Durga Pujo is to connect with people's souls, especially Bengalis, which comes from stories. Storytelling plays an important role in this festival. Experts also believe there'll be a surge in OOH spends, with offers, contests, tech-based innovative approaches showcased via pandals and digital, this Pujo.

Shamita Islur
New Update
Durga Pujo marketing

A popular proverb in Bangla, 'Baro mashe tero parbon' means Bengalis have thirteen festivals in twelve months. This proverb truly mirrors the community's rich culture and love for festivities. And the heart of these festivities, the grand Durga Pujo, can’t be missed. 

The festival pays homage to the Hindu goddess Durga and is celebrated because of her victory over Mahishasura. It is particularly popular in the state of West Bengal and is adorned with structural decorations (pandals). The ten-day festival, out of which the last five days are significant for Bengalis, is marked by scripture recitations, performance arts, revelry, gift-giving, family visits, feasting, and public processions (mela).

For marketers, the larger objective is to connect with a Bengali’s soul which comes from stories. One of the biggest ad spenders during Durga Pujo, Asian Paints has been associated with the festival since 1985 through ‘Asian Paints Sharad Shamman’, an excellence award given to the best decorated Durga Pujo Pandal in Kolkata during the festival in October. 

Its campaigns, too, reflect the stories of the Bengali community and resonate with the festive spirit to bring forth the creativity the state is known for across art forms. This year, the brand celebrates the community’s love for art by honouring the ones who contribute to making Pujo memorable for all. It has also celebrated 150 years of the Kolkata Tram by turning it into a canvas as a tribute.




With this, the festival sees a surge in footfall every year (barring COVID-19) and brands take innovative approaches to show their presence. Anindya Ray, Executive Vice President - Business, Lodestar UM states, “Approximately 30% of the annual marketing budget in West Bengal is dedicated to Durga Puja-centric campaigns.” 

A couple of weeks prior to Pujo, a surge in ad spends is observed for promoting offers, new product launches, and retail activations, with contests as a key strategy.

During the festival, advertising aligns with two key themes - Awareness and Tactical, according to Ray, out of which brands across FMCG, footwear, paints, and cement focus on top-of-mind recall. On the other hand, tactical campaigns by retailers, especially in jewellery, sarees, apparel, footwear, and local food brands, thrive during Pujo.

He mentions that the media channels vary with awareness leaning on TV, OOH, and Digital, while Tactical relies heavily on Print, OOH, Radio, and Pujo-centric TV spots.




Hindol Purkayastha, EVP and Business Head (North and East), L&K Saatchi & Saatchi comments, “Brands increased their advertising expenditure significantly last year, and it likely to go up by 20-25% later this year, too, amid a high-level of positivity and strong sentiment in the market.”

While TV and digital media are expected to drive media spending, Purkayastha notes that print and out-of-home spending will also increase.

An OOH fare

The uniqueness of Durga Pujo is that it is celebrated as a community festival and is open to all. It's time for everyone to step out of home and celebrate the days of Durga Pujo at the community pandal. Pandal hopping is a big thing for all ten days, starting with Mahalaya, shares Binda Dey, CMO, Knight Riders Group.


“This communal behaviour leads to a considerable surge in spending on OOH and activations. Digital plays a significant role; social media traffic peaks as everyone becomes a content creator during the festival. Opportunists for marketeers are to find a relevant connection to the celebrations and create a clutter-breaking campaign around it,” she continues.

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)’s festive campaign this year is celebrating the two biggest festivals happening this month - Durga Pujo and the Cricket World Cup. The campaign is called 'Maathe hochhe khela, shaathe Pujo'r mela' and the franchise is organizing Pandal Hopping/Parikrama with members of the fan clubs. It will include vox pop and quizzes with fans at various pandals, talking about Durga Pujo, food, the World Cup, team KKR, giving away exclusive merchandise and much more. 




Dey elaborates that there would be multiple hoardings across the city and newspaper ads as the KKR fan clubs have organized various activities for underprivileged children through NGO partners. 

Kolkata-based agency BESI Marketing Solutions' Founder, Sandeep Bajaj votes for Outdoor advertising as the medium that will get the biggest share this festival. 

“The advertisers tend to spend more on outdoor advertising so that they can reach those people who are not on Social Media. They prefer spending a lot on hoardings, banners, etc during the Pujas. They also like to sponsor a lot of Pujas so that they can get a lot of traction.” 



On the digital front, Bajaj says brands tend to spend on Facebook, Instagram and some other Puja apps as well. 

“They will try and showcase the major Pujas on Social Media especially where they have spent for sponsorships and other activities to reach out to the audience which could not visit Kolkata during this period. We expect the spends to rise by about 20-30% on Social Media after the Pujas,” he remarks.

Striking a chord with Bengalis 

“During this festive season, brands can strike the chord with emotionally enchanting themes focused on the pulse of the moment across the country, personalization, experience-driven, nostalgia, Tech & innovation, or family values,” according to Rashi Garodia, Business Head, Team Pumpkin, who leads the Eastern market for the agency. 

Garodia believes in using the strength of traditional, digital, social media, outdoor advertising, and immersive experiences to produce a ‘masterpiece’ of marketing initiatives that resonate with every Bengali's soul.

She reveals, “Some of the pandals this year are expected to be themed on the Chandrayaan landing, Disneyland, Barbie, Cricket World Cup, some pandals are paying homage to veteran artists, some are focussing on pressing issues like anti-ragging and struggle with destiny, and the likes.”

BESI Marketing Solutions’ Sandeep Bajaj adds to this by saying that the media strategies which brands can opt for depend on their products and their marketing budgets. Live streaming of Pujos can be added in order to leverage the same.

“They can use immersive experiences with AR & VR, they can highlight their brand and integrate it with sustainable living for the environment, they can use innovative OOH advertising with the help of 3D billboards, interactive kiosks, etc. They can also go in for evergreen user-generated content campaigns.”

Hindol Purkayastha, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi notes, “For categories such as fashion and high-end electronics, where touch and feel plays a key role, brands are looking to create an enhanced offline experience for consumers. Niche brands are utilizing the digital space to differentiate themselves and connect with their audience.”

In many categories, last-mile marketing is becoming important, and full-funnel activation through ad campaigns, strategic media choices, discounts, gift vouchers, and rewards is expected with local tie-ups and social media action that will drive home their message. 

Purkayastha says, “Some big players may also roll out interesting AI-led campaigns to create unique experiences for their consumers.”

Consumer buying sentiments

Despite the large fare amongst the consumers, Sandeep Bajaj has observed that Pujo shopping has been reducing to some extent because of the lifestyle change owing to an increase in online shopping. 

“People tend to buy stuff online throughout the year. Also, the sale in the stores continues almost throughout the year and people keep on buying. So, the charm of buying a lot just before the festivals is not there like before.”

He adds that new clothes are still being purchased but consumers are spending a lot on food and entertainment especially after the pandemic, which is why he believes that the F&B category will be the most benefited this Durga Pujo. 

While shopping patterns are changing, Durga Pujo continues to be a significant economic driver in West Bengal influencing consumer sentiment positively. As per Lodestar UM's Ray, it also marks the beginning of festivities as the positive spirit extends to Lakshmi Puja and Christmas, driving indulgence and spending across various sectors. After all, West Bengal is known for celebrating 'Baro mashe tero parbon'.

With inputs from Sneha Medda

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