4 Creative Brand Storytelling Videos That Inspired Us Amidst Pandemic Disrupted Durga Puja

Arijit Dutta
4 min readOct 9, 2021
Biswarup Ganguly, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Many have compared Kolkata’s Durga Puja celebrations with Rio’s Carnival. This five-day festival is undoubtedly one of the world’s biggest. However, the Durga puja of the past was quite different. Traditionally, most Durga Pujas were held in affluent homes. As time went on, many communities began organizing Durga puja, called baroyari (literally means “12 friends”), which attracted large crowds. Today, the festival is an annual mega-event that attracts millions of people. Over the past decade, Durga Puja has become more of a battle of brands, as businesses use it as a marketing opportunity.

The five-day festival generated transactions worth Rs 45 billion in Kolkata (the capital of West Bengal state in India) and Rs 150 billion in West Bengal in the pre-pandemic year 2019. Approximately Rs 5–8 billion was spent on advertising in Kolkata’s Pujas in 2019, with nearly Rs 1.5 billion being spent on banners and gates alone. As a comparison, the median income in Kolkata is approximately Rs 60,000 per month.

In 2021, however, Durga puja is expected to remain a low-key festival in West Bengal for the second consecutive year. The pandemic has derailed the plans of puja committees and grand celebrations. The festival is most likely to be observed with strict COVID protocols, as it was last year. Corporate sponsorships and advertisements usually depend on footfall in an area. In the midst of the ongoing pandemic, many brands have turned to online marketing since people aren’t going outside and aren’t allowed to gather at pandals.

The New Primetime Is Streaming Anything Whenever Viewers Want It

Streaming was already a popular way to watch content before the pandemic. As viewers enjoy a seemingly endless amount of content to choose from and have total control, traditional primetime has been displaced by a highly engaged personal primetime.² Unlike traditional primetime, nowadays, viewers are turning to streaming videos whenever and wherever they want to. During the pandemic, viewers spend more time at home watching mobile and connected TV (OTT) content than they ever have. Online streaming enables advertisers to reach their target audiences in more places than ever before.

Approximately 356 million people watch mobile videos in India, according to InMobi’s report on programmatic mobile advertising.¹ The unprecedented growth of video consumption has led brands to invest in developing engaging content.

A number of brands have released ad films featuring Durga Puja festivity and the pandemic in recent years. These videos created an immediate emotional connection with Indians (especially Bengalis). Listed below is a selection of video content designed to portray love, courage, belongingness, and, above all, hope.

Tanishq (India’s largest jewellery brand) created an ad film that explores the myth of goddess Maa Durga and how she defeated the seemingly invincible Mahisasura (demon). The campaign unfolds the richness of the rituals and traditions of the festival.

Lifebuoy (soap brand marketed by Unilever) recently aired a television commercial emphasizing the importance of keeping hands sanitized and sanitizer spray on hand during pandal visits to maintain basic hygiene.

Shoppers Stop (an Indian department store chain) introduced the campaign “Ami Aalo”, which means “I Am the Light”. The video shows how women embody the characteristics of Goddess Durga and emerge as light at the end of the dark tunnel of the pandemic, which we are all trapped in.

The ad format is an important aspect to note here. The video content is square in design. Marketers are making square videos for Facebook and Instagram. Square videos (1:1) take up 78% more space in a person’s mobile newsfeed than landscape videos (16:9), resulting in 60% more completions.³

Asian Paints (an Indian multinational paint company) in their ad Sharad Samman ‘Dugga Elo Ghawrey’, focused on bringing Puja home. The story follows an adorable little girl who is aware of the threat of the pandemic and that she will not be able to take part in Puja festivities this year. Her family takes it upon themselves to bring her the Puja delights.

As the pandemic disrupted Durga Puja, brands had to be innovative in their marketing. Recent video ads have brought together sight, sound, and emotion in ways few people could have imagined. Well-crafted and targeted video ads can easily get a couple of million views online within a few hours. This is a much better return on investment for brands than the effort it used to took to engage about 7 million pandal hoppers for five consecutive days and nights on the streets of Kolkata. It’s almost certain that video advertising will continue to be a valuable part of marketing plans during Durga puja for years to come.



Arijit Dutta

Data-driven digital media marketer and brand communication strategist. Experienced in lead generation, paid media promotion and SaaS product management.