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    Diwali 2020 in Covid-19: Our Celebrations, Campaigns and Communications

    When the world went into lockdown this year it was difficult to forecast the future. However, one thing that many people pinned their hopes on was that life would return to some semblance of normality for the festivities towards the end of the year. One such festival is Diwali marked this year on November 14th.

    Covid-19 has caused a major health and economic crisis and for brands to remain at the forefront of consumer’s minds they will need to up their game when it comes to communicating the messages they really want to share on one of the biggest festivals of the country. Gone (for the time being) are the days of big family get-togethers with a rise in positive coronavirus cases in India, brands will now have to be prepared to follow suit creating more meaningful and effective campaigns. 

    Here are our 10 interesting observations:

    1. There is definitely a need for some cheer and celebration, but this time our get-togethers will be more intimate with stronger connections over large gatherings. WhatsApp wishes will be a preferred choice and hopefully, firecrackers will be a big nay nay. The Diwali celebration at the office will be greatly missed though.

    2. We’ve moved from being paranoid to prepared and being positive about fighting this. This has helped us be insightful storytellers. 

    3. Diwali normally witnesses a Super Bowl like creativity in communications from brands. But this year, the caution is visible even in branding. A few heart-warming stories apart, we don’t really have a standout piece, unlike the past. We need more such inspirations! 

    4. Are we the only one to feel that most Diwali ads are shorter this year? Where are those lovely stories that would leave you with wet eyes and lumpy throats? Maybe it is tight budgets. Maybe they had the IPL clash! 

    5. The pandemic situation is understandably visible in most storylines. There are more virtual meets than real get together this year. Even WFH are good triggers.

    6. Why so serious, yaar? We wish there were more ads with playfulness, banter and humour! We need those now in dark depressing times.

    7. Thankfully, this year there are more real-people, real-life stories and not celebrities telling you how to celebrate. More human stories, the better.

    8. Prominent brands across categories are distinctively moving from reinforcing the traditional sense of family to reinforcing the sense of community, with narratives centred around essential workers, small businesses, landlord-tenant relationships, student-teacher relationships to name a few.

    9. It is interesting to note that, with an increase in impulsive and emotional purchases, there is an increase in online purchases through mobile phones. 53% of Indian consumers made their first online purchase in the last 6 months, with 40% of them residing in smaller towns. This is great news for e-commerce brands that have been persistently trying to convert first-time shoppers in these markets for Diwali every year.

    10. There is a strong emergence of narration on resilience, doing good for our community and being ‘vocal for local’. The paradigm is actually shifting behind the scenes. With remote working conditions, one is definitely seeing digital auditions, remote direction, remote over-seeing of the process by stakeholders and many other norms of communication and production adapting to the new normal.

    What is interesting to ponder over is whether it is the reliance on online shopping that is leading to impulsive purchases or vice versa. In terms of communication, along with the often-repeated festive themes of togetherness, and new beginnings, this Diwali continues to be a rare beacon of light in a year that was largely shrouded in the dullness.

    Diwali 2020 may or may not have people rushing to the markets and spilling over the streets, but what is unmistakable is the festive spirit that’s unwavering. Our lamps will be lit, homes will be decked up and Goddess of Wealth Lakshmi will be welcomed with open hearts and open wallets. The old normal will prevail.