Pick up any newspaper, switch on any TV channel, drive down any main street or tune into any FM channel and chances are that you will be bombarded with advertisements exhorting you to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
A shopkeeper displays election themed snap-on mobile phone covers in Mumbai. Snap-on mobile phone covers featuring party symbols, photos and messages of political parties have flooded the market as entrepreneurs try to cash in on poll mania. (AFP Photo)
The tab? Media buyers and sources close to the BJP’s campaign said the party could end up spending about Rs. 5,000 crore by May 12, when the last phase of polling takes place. Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director, Madison World, which is handling the BJP’s media planning, refused to say anything beyond “we are moving as per the approved plan”.
But a veteran media planner, who is working closely with the BJP, told HT on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media: “Planned spends on all media, including print, television, outdoor, internet and radio would be close to Rs. 4,500 crore. The party has set aside an additional Rs. 500 crore, which will be used, based on need, to beef up the campaign in critical constituencies and states in the last few days of campaigning.”
“The strategy, apart from carpet bombing voters with BJP’s message, is to block out all other political parties across the print, television, online and offline media irrespective of cost,” said a media planner from Madison on condition of anonymity.
The party has booked 15,000 hoardings across India for up to three months. The cost: From Rs. 2-3 lakh per hoarding per month in cheaper locations to as much as Rs. 20 lakh per hoarding per month in Mumbai’s Nariman Point. The total cost: Rs. 2,500 crore.
In the print media, the BJP has bought the most prominent ad slots across national, regional and vernacular newspapers for 40 days. “We have chosen 50 top national and regional newspapers across India and plan to release about four to five ads everyday till the end of the election process,” said the planner. The budget: Rs. 500 crore. The advertisement budget for magazines is an additional Rs. 150 crore.
In TV, the BJP has bought about 2,000 spots a day across Hindi, English and regional news, general entertainment and sports channels. A spot in most popular entertainment channels cost about Rs. 80,000 per 30 seconds. The budget: Rs. 800-1,000 crore. It spent another Rs. 150 crore during the T20 World Cup. The online and radio budget is about Rs. 35 crore.
Asked to comment on its ad budget, a senior BJP leader said, “The expenditure would be about Rs. 700-750 crore.”
“The BJP’s spending is at least four times that of the Congress,” said Santosh Sood, former COO, Rediffusion Y&R, a media buying agency.