5 tips to make a marketing splash this Holi

Happy Holi everyone!

With an estimated 440 million Indian millennials in India, a staggering 468,800 born in India residing in Australia (and many, many more by ancestry!) and more than 150 million Indians logged into Facebook at least once a month, the Indian diaspora is certainly a highly attractive target market.

A beginner’s guide to Holi – the Festival of Colours – 10 questions answered


MultiConnexions PR & Social Media Manager, Katrina Hall looks at the fun-filled festival, and wishes all a Happy Holi filled with the colours of joy and happiness.

1. What is Holi?

The Holi Festival of Colours (also called Holi, Holika and Phagwa) is celebrated the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna (early March). It is a day to mark spring, honour some events regarding Prahlada in the Hindu faith, and a time to disregard propriety and social norms and have a bit of fun!

2. When is Holi this year?

This year, the festival will likely be falling on Friday the 2nd of March, 2018.

3. What is the story behind the festival?

The story goes that Lord Brahma granted the haughty Demon King Hiranyakashipu virtual invincibility – and with his new powers, Hiranyakashipu arrogantly proclaimed himself a God. However, his son took issue with this and rebelled against him – thus enraging Hiranyakashipu who immediately ordered his son to be killed.

Many attempts were made in vain to carry out the murder. In desperation, Hiranyakashipu ordered Prahlada to be burned on a pyre along with his sister Holika, little knowing that Holika had been given immunity from fire by Lord Brahma.

Flames began to lick Prahlada and Holika – but the devout Prahlada prayed to Lord Vishnu to save him from the burning flames and, hearing the prayers, Lord Vishnu granted him mercy, while the fire consumed Holika. Alas, Holika did not know that her immunity worked only when she entered the fire alone!

Prahlada felt sorry for Holika and named Holi festival after her. Today, this story represents the end of pride and the day after the Holika bonfire is celebrated as Holi.

4. Who celebrates Holi?

Holi is widely celebrated in India, Australia and around the world by Hindus, Sikhs, some Jains, Newar Buddhists and other non-Hindus. Indians, and many other new audiences, are deeply rooted in their culture and this is a special time for them.

5. How do people celebrate Holi?

On the eve of Holi, a pyre is lit for Holika. The ritual symbolises the victory of good over evil. People gather around the fire to sing and dance and may offer raw coconut and corn to the fire. The next morning, fun begins again in earnest with something akin to a high-stakes water-fight! Friends, family and strangers alike throw coloured powder, coloured water and coloured paint/ dye around in an atmosphere of frivolity and humour. The end results are a riot of colour and a truly unforgettable spectacle.

As one Holi festival attendee put it last year, “When we’re covered in colours, our differences no longer matter.”

6. Are there any traditional foods, clothes, or symbols on the day?

Holi is all about colour, so it’s probably best to wear clothes you don’t mind getting ruined! Aside from that, sweet dumplings (dahi vada), a condensed milk slice (barfi) and fried fritters (pakora) are popular Holi treats. Obviously, visiting family and friends is a very important part of Holi.

7. What happened on Holi last year around the world?

Utah is home to the largest Holi festival in the world outside of India. Australia, the UK and many countries also host amazing celebrations – both organised and informally. Holi has also inspired some fantastic celebrations around the world, including Florida’s Life in Color, the Netherlands’ Mumbai Color Festival, Holi One in South Africa, and Colorjam Music Festival in Texas among many others.

8. What can we expect this year?

This year Holi certainly promises to be bigger and better than ever, as more and more people are beginning to celebrate.

9. Is Holi marked in Australia? What events are there this year?

Australia’s South Asian community marks Holi in style, with a series of fun activities around the country – focussing particularly on Sydney and Melbourne, where most of our Indian diaspora reside. Celebrations around the country include Blacktown Holi Mela, Keysborough Holi Mela, Holi Mahotsav in Darling Harbour Sydney, Rockdale Colour Festival, Holi Mela Parramatta, Melbourne Holi Festival St Kilda, Wyndham Holi and Springfield Holi Festival in Brisbane to name but a small sample.

Such events are increasingly attracting the attention of major Australian brands looking to harness the goodwill during Holi, and target messages to the crowds of attendees via goodwill initiatives.

10. What is the marketing opportunity during Holi?

In addition to the above mentioned festival/ sponsorship marketing opportunities – for many brands there are many other terrific marketing opportunities to be tapped into during this period.

For example, during Holi many Indians choose to give their home a thorough spring-cleaning – often redecorating and disposing of old items. This means a great marketing opportunity for the retail sector with additional sales generated of household goods, clothing and more. It is a time when many Indians look at property investments and even changing their homes for a larger and better one.

Holi is also a wonderful time for marketers to integrate festive greetings into advertisements and marketing initiatives to capture the attention of enthusiastic people celebrating Holi.

A tale of two countries

On my recent trip to India, I was amazed at the changes in population demographics and psychographics. It was indeed a youthful India that I encountered.

It was not just meeting young people brimming with entrepreneurial energy that impressed me, but also encountering the middle aged and older Indians with a refreshingly and decidedly younger mindset that took me by surprise!

Diwali – A missed opportunity for marketers?

Diwali (or Deepavali) is one of the biggest festivals celebrated by South Asians all over the world. It holds great spiritual significance and is the celebration of good trumping evil where fireworks and lanterns are lit, colourful glad-rags are worn, and delicious traditional sweets are exchanged over a period of 4 days.

And as the festivities are wrapping up (this year it ran from October 30 to November 3), it is the perfect time to reflect on whether or not this festival was a missed opportunity for Australian brands and marketers.

Five Tips for Engaging Multicultural Diasporas this Festive Season

Australia’s multicultural environment is no secret, and marketers cannot afford to ignore the spending power of ‘new audience’ Diasporas.

This Festive Season, connect with ‘new audience’ Diasporas and tap into their enormous marketing potential by tying in with cultural festivities.

Relationship Matters in Business

It’s not B2B, it’s P2P (People to People).

A critical piece in the missing puzzle while doing business with India or China is cultural understanding.

Relationship matters in building trust and only when there is trust will the Asians do business with Australians. Yet how often do we hear Australian business leaders say – ‘let’s cut to the chase’. Impatience can often blow a great business opportunity out of the window in seconds.

Multiculturalism in Australian Small Business

I’ve been a self-proclaimed Sydney-sider for almost nine years now. Having had a culturally diverse upbringing in four different countries, prior to making Sydney home, I can say with confidence that my new home is one of the most diverse. The very suburb I live in ranks 11th in the recent SBS interactive “how diverse is my suburb”, representing 125 different ancestries. Chinese makes up the largest chunk followed by Australian, Macedonian, Greek, Lebanese, Nepalese and Indian.

5 Ways to Create Meaningful Engagement with Multicultural Audiences

Multicultural audience events are intrinsic to the life of every migrant in Australia, along with their children and their children’s children. Whether you speak a language other than English, were born overseas or have ancestral roots in another country – the link to culture is one that continues to thrive (no matter how long you’ve lived in Australia). Using cultural insights to effectively engage with these audiences, at the grass-root level, can be the difference between simply reaching them, versus giving them a reason to believe in your brand or product.

Make in India – a win-win for Australia

For many, India is a scary place. The sheer thought of undertaking any type of business with India would be worrying because of the challenges, uncertainties and the very real possibility that you might end up with a raw deal of high-cost, low-quality output.

In fact, Mark Thirwell, Chief Economist of Austrade, while speaking in Mumbai, said that if Australian companies were asked to list the new and exciting markets to do business in, India would invariably feature among the top five. He also remarked that Australian companies would rank India among the top five countries that were the most business-unfriendly! It’s unsurprising then that the gap between expectation and outcome is what would worry foreign investors.

Australia-India relationship grows stronger.

India has undergone a rapid transformation in recent years and achieved strong economic growth. PM Modi’s initiatives such as Start-up India, Skill India, Digital India and Make in India will certainly contribute to this fastest growing economy with a GDP growth rate of 7.5%.

The recent Make in India conference and initiatives for which the Indian Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley visited Australia is certainly a win-win situation for Australia. Australia’s research capabilities coupled with its innovation strategy can find the best home and scalability of operations in India. As a marketer, my prediction would be such initiatives will only strengthen the bilateral business relationship leading to more investments across both countries. Business migration is set to increase and it can only benefit Australia.