Kumbh Mela is probably the single biggest religious festival in the world, attracting millions of Hindu pilgrims who come to bathe in sacred rivers, and its focus on cleansing and purification has again drawn the attention of marketers of FMCG brands.

The gathering officially starts on Tuesday 15th January in Allahabad, which is now officially known as Prayagraj, in Uttar Pradesh state where the authorities have prepared a temporary city of tents, toilets and other essentials.

With vast numbers of both rural and urban pilgrims expected to attend over the 45 days in which Kumbh Mela is celebrated, some marketers have told The Hindu about their plans to engage these consumers with experiential branding.

Dabur, one of India’s largest natural consumer product vendors, for example, intends to promote its Dabur Red toothpaste dispensers while also spreading the message of oral hygiene.

“Our experience is that people exposed to products with unique engagements become potential buyers as well as brand ambassadors,” said Minoo Phakey, the company’s head of marketing.

Dabur also plans to promote its digestive brand Hajmola by using play-based activation in which each Hajmola variant is put forward as a candidate fighting in an election. The idea is for pilgrims to vote on their favourite, with winners of the taste selection being announced at the end of the Mela.

Meanwhile, Indian conglomerate Welspun wants to raise awareness of its recently launched Quik Dry Towel. “We need to connect with Middle India. There is huge opportunity to build the brand here at Kumbh,” said Manjari Upadhye, CEO of Welspun’s domestic business.

Birla Corp also aims to engage consumers with plans to distribute 200,000 branded headbands while also co-branding 70 changing rooms.

“Any activation thoughtfully done gets amplified and with a lingering value, as in the case of the headband which will be worn for a long time,” said Sandip Ranjan Ghose, executive president at Birla Corp.

Some international brands are also expected to take part, including regulars like Hindustan Unilever and Coca-Cola, although industry expert Sudhir Nair warned that brands should be careful about their communications given the religious nature of the event.

“It has a specific image attached to it which is very earthy, rooted in tradition and culture. Not all brands are a snug fit,” he said. “Given how touchy sentiments these days are, the danger of being bracketed unwittingly in a right-wing ideology many make some brands wary of participating.”

Sourced from The Hindu; additional content by WARC staff