Thoughts on Chennai Sangamam : Great Marketing and Novel initiative

17 Jan

I recently visited one of  shows, part of Chennai Sangamam Open Festival program and I was completely floored by it.

Few notes and thoughts :

Great Initiative : A fantastic initiative by Department of Tourism and Culture , Govt of Tamil Nadu to provide a great platform for rural artists to showcase their talents in music and dance . A great place of convergence where urban meets rural folks. But most important of all a great eye opener on the great , rustic music and dance culture of India , sans borders.

Ingenious Marketing : One of the ways the organizers used to promote the Festival was to paint the Govt buses with images of the artists performing for music and dance numbers. But the icing of the cake was – and i must say this was really ingenious – to let artists sit inside the buses and play their music while commuting.

This is simple and great marketing at zero-cost . See, the organizers had figured out their audiences. The people who are going to watch these programs are not going to come from those who are driving Honda city’s or Hyundai Verna’s. They are not going to be people who were living the hi-funda lifestyle.Your typical audience is the regular guy who on one hand enjoy beats of A.R Rehman but at the same time bow their heads in veneration when it comes to traditional music. These are the people who migrated from their native districts and villages to Chennai seeking out jobs and better life, leaving behind their old ancestral house,grandma’s thair sadams and green agricultural lands ( reluctantlyI must add ) to join MNC companies, Railways, Public Sector Banks and other govt job.

  • The audience is the guy who catches the9 am , 23c bus from Aynavaram to Life Insurance Corporation and working hard so that he can fuel his son/daughter’s engineering dreams.
  • The audience is the lady who got married and moved to Chennai with her husband and now takes care of her house and kids and 25 years later still reminiscing her grandma’s manga thoku ( homemade mango pickle). She still hums folk songs learnt when she was a kid. She still craves for the traditional foods made by her great grandmother, which is so famed in her native place. I am sure you can see her walking every day in the evening all the way to a small mom and pop departmental store to buy vegetables/fruits and other groceries to feed her kids and husband when they come back home.
  • The audience is also the 28 year old guy who moved to Chennai , to some engineering college, finished his BE in CSE/ECE/I.T etc and couldn’t go back because he got campus placement in TCS and still paying EM I’s to bank which paid his college fee. He could be married and his spouse could be an IT professional as well. He rides a bike or takes a  bus either to his office or parks his bike ( for Rs 3) and takes the train to the IT corridor where his company is housed.The same , boring job of coding, software testing . These days he is not sure when he is gonna be asked to clear his desk for good.Recession triggered pink slips are galore. He still remembers how he and his school friends played gilli danda, ko-ko in his Theni/Trichy/Madurai district. And he can still remember how after coming back from school, he takes a dip at the village lake/river and then goes to folk play/dance programs held under a thatched hut or a wooden stage . He still loves such music and any day prefers it over disgusting women, scantily dressed and dances on stages and gets paid a whooping rs 50 lac for a show ( I will come to that later).


Now imagine what if one fine day , when the Dad on his way to LIC office in Mount Road, in the 23 C; the house wife on her way to the departmental store; the IT prof guy on his way ( 8.30 am train so he takes the 7.45 am bus) to office; hears the same old , rustic, traditional, familiar folk music and smiles when he sees the artists dressed in bright red/green/yellow colors, majestically holding those from-my-native-land instruments ? What if it refreshes his mind, makes his day, gets him pumped and then he does something which he has never done while commuting in the bus : he taps his foot in sync with the rhythm of the music . The same old , from -my-native music. What if that bus has stopped at a traffic signal and the artists are playing their music and

Now Imagine , my dear friends! –

The Dad and the IT guy in the same bus, the lady is at the same time crossing the road . The bus is waiting for the green signal to come . The Dad looks awe struck at the music, the IT guy taps his foot and the housewife hums the her own native song from her land. This is a micro perspective. What about the hundreds and thousands of buses running across Chennai and millions of Chennai people listen to the artists playing everyday in the morning and evening while commuting in bus? What kind of effect will it bring ? Wont the lady go back home and pester her husband to take her to the festival? Wont the Dad take his family to the festival during the weekends? Wont the I.T guy sms his wife and ask her to meet him at the festival after office?

This is marketing at its best ! If you disagree with me , you are welcome to criticize !

Now how much money, do you think, was involved here, for marketing? What would  percentage do you think the advertising agency would take had they been hired for this ? What other costs do you think was involved ?

Govt would have incurred the cost of letting the artists in the bus free of cost and also paid  the artists who painted the images in the buses.  Any other cost involved ?

Zero! Zilch ! Absolutely nothing ….

I now look forward to the next chapter of Chennai Sangamam !


2 Responses to “Thoughts on Chennai Sangamam : Great Marketing and Novel initiative”

  1. jegath gaspar January 20, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

    Thank you for the excellent review, except that Chennai Sangmam was conceived and orchestrated by Tamil Maiyam. The Dept. of Tourism and Culture provides support . For correct details please visit our website
    jegath gaspar

  2. spartanvikas January 20, 2009 at 4:13 pm #

    The mistake is regretted and I stand corrected ..

    Thanks for pointing it out, Jegath

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