Brand Strategy Marketing

As Diwali approaches, what does a smart festive marketing plan look like?


By Amit Bapna, Editor-at-large

November 3, 2021 | 4 min read

We bring you the experts’ guide to marketing around the festival season...


Time to get the festival playbook ready

With the festival season around the corner, many marketers are shifting into overdrive after months of subdued spending. Before they do, however, now is the perfect time to briefly hit the pause button and have a think about what makes a smart festive marketing plans. And to make that easier, The Drum has asked senior marketers and media planners for their advice on marketing around the festival season, which kicks off on November 4 with the biggest – Diwali, the Indian festival of lights.

“Bring singular focus on strengthening the mobile audience strategy,” says Vasuta Agarwal, managing director for Asia Pacific at InMobi. “In a mobile-first India, 70% of consumers intend to use their smartphones to learn, explore and buy this festive season. Brands that enable consumers in their mobile moments of truth will emerge as clear winners. Therefore, brands need to have a singular focus on strengthening their mobile audience strategy and integrating shoppable experiences into every campaign.“

“Create an uplifting theme that humanizes the brand,” says Atique Kazi, president of data, performance and digital products at GroupM India. “Over the past two years, we all have lost a friend or a colleague or a family member or a neighbor due to Covid-19. This Diwali, brands should focus on creating an uplifting, inspirational theme of care, unity with an emotional chord that humanizes the brand in these uncertain times and creates a sense of togetherness - we are in this together. Use of creativity, insights and reaching them in the right context is the key to a prosperous Diwali.“

“Deploy addressable media to reach a focused audience,” says Deepika Nikhilender, senior vice-president for Asia Pacific at Xaxis. “It’s time for brands to reconnect tapping the emotions that have been ignited by the pandemic. This year’s Diwali is one more year with glow off the festival of lights, with possibly muted celebrations and families still unable to get together. To engage consumers in the digitally evolved world, brands must cut through the clutter with a massive emphasis on impactful messages, elevated user experience and deep relevance for the action they want to elicit, in both the offline and online world. The rise of addressable media, such as DOOH, programmatic audio and OTT/CTV, will empower brands to reach a focused audience and deliver messages leveraging data to achieve the performance outcomes that are maximized for effectiveness.“

“Target savvy Indian consumers with best offers,” says Stuart McLennan, senior vice-president for Asia Pacific at Rakuten Advertising. “Brands (particularly international retailers) should look to the affiliate channel and partner with local publishers in the cashback, loyalty and coupon space to get direct access to savvy Indian consumers looking for best-in-market offers. The pandemic has fueled consumer confidence in e-commerce, and this partnership approach can help international retailers better understand market nuances and localize their messaging and offers for Diwali.“

“Look to leverage omnichannel strategies on the open internet,” says Tejinder Gill, general manager of The Trade Desk India. “Open internet is a powerful bridge to reach new customers during this festive season. Just as many consumers turn to the open internet as they do to social media to inform their purchase decisions. As such, marketers should look beyond search and social media, and leverage omnichannel strategies on the open internet (OTT, streaming music, mobile apps, websites) to reach their target audience.“

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