The effectiveness of billboards in advertising is a proven fact. The reason why many national and international brands rely on billboards as much as they do TV or newspapers is only because of the reach of billboards. Though not aggressively used for public awareness campaigns, billboards have their own share as often used by various state governments or central government.
You might be remembering the public awareness campaign by Central Government during the time of demonetisation. It is estimated that government spend around Rs.10 crore on demonetisation awareness ads across the nation which also included print media ads and radio commercials. Besides advertising heavily on the newspapers, the government billboards and hoardings that read “Kar-chori se ladai mein, mera paisa surakshit hai” (In the fight against tax evasion, my money is safe) were put up in several public spaces. The billboards carried the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with details on the deadline to submit the scrapped currency notes of Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 denominations.
This is not the first time central government took up billboard advertising. For Swachh Bharat Abhiyan ad campaign, in different languages, the government spent in excess of Rs.100 crore. Launched in 2014, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan which promoted Clean India Mission, the campaign also included television commercials. Government released more ads in the following years so as to promote sanitation and end open defecation.
On completion of its first year in office and for International Yoga Day- a pet project of Modi, the government reportedly spent an extra amount of Rs.55 crore on advertising including billboards and print / radio ads. According to information provided by the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry to activist Ramveer Tanveer under the Right to Information, the Central government has spent nearly Rs.3,755 crore in three and half years on its publicity till October 2017.
If you look at the expenditure on advertisements from April 2014 to October 2017 through electronic, print media and outdoor publicity, it is Rs.37,54,06,23,616. According to the information, the central government spent over Rs.1,656 crore on electronic media advertisements, including -- community radio, digital cinema, Doordarshan, Internet, SMS and TV. For print media, the government spent more than Rs.1,698 crore. On outdoor advertisements, which include hoardings, posters, booklets and calendars, the central government has spent over Rs.399 crore. Earlier government has extensively used billboards for their “Give it up” campaign inspiring people to give up LPG subsidy.
It is revealed that the amount spent on publicity blitz is more than the yearly budget allocated to some key ministries and government’s flagship programmes. Earlier the BJP and Congress had criticised the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi for spending Rs.526 crore on advertising its achievements in 2015.
Nava Karnataka Nirmana campaign at Karnataka,
The current news is from Bengaluru where CM Siddaramaiah has opted for billboard advertising to spread the campaign ‘Nava Karnataka Nirmana’.The Nava Karnataka 2025 (Vision 2025) initiative aims at the integrated development of Karnataka in the next 7 years. Launched in last September, this initiative envisages the development of a vision for the State over the next seven years. Its main objective is to suggest a roadmap for sustainable and integrated development in a consultative, participative and an inclusive manner. The aim is to bring about a paradigm shift from “need based” governance to an “achievement driven” one. The government has reached out to the citizen’s seeking their ideas and feedback by conducting workshops in every district.
To take this campaign to the public, Karnataka government has opted out for billboard advertising apart from the print, radio and visual advertising. The advantage of billboard advertising over other medias is that it is open to all 24 x 7, all days until the campaign ends. Unlike the others which can be accessed only during a particular time, the billboards will work for the government without any other expense for the target people. The ads in newspaper can be accessed only if the target people buy the newspaper. Billboards on the other hand will be present for people when they commute for work or other things.
The size is another advantage. Unlike the small advertising space in newspaper or magazine, the large billboards will surely make you glance at it. There is no doubt that it allows the campaign to reach more people faster and cheaper than any other mass marketing media. Since most billboards run for a certain period of time, it is also an advantage as the message gets repeated views and becomes more engrained in their memory. To repeat an ad in newspaper or TV will not be a wise move as often the expense is huge.
For Karnataka government which plans to organise various competitions and activities targeting different age groups to bring out every citizen’s idea for the state, there is no better way to announce different competitions or activities other than billboards. It will enable the government to reach its objective- to engage with broad and large audience across sections of citizenry to make Nava Karnataka 2025 a true “Janata Document”.