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Rickshaws: No longer just a transport option

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In OOH News | May 19, 2008
Raipur based Rajat Advertising is giving OOH advertising a boost in small towns and rural areas with its innovative 'adrickshaws'

The out & #BANNER1 & # of home industry in India is picking up speed. Innovations and new technologies are driving the industry today.

The new addition in the list of innovations are 'adrickshaws', launched by specialist agency Rajat Advertising in Chattisgarh.

Rickshaws conjure up the picture of zooming three wheelers with no shock absorbers, blaring Hindi film music, adorned with garish stickers, colourful mirrors and pictures of Bollywood heroines. Adrickshaws are nowhere close to these, cannot be used for transportation and are mainly for outdoor advertising.

Rajat Gupta, owner and promoter, Rajat Advertising, came up with the concept of adrickshaws designed specifically for small towns and rural areas. Adrickshaws are similar to normal rickshaws, the difference being that instead of a seat, they have an ad space. Each adrickshaw has a 6 feet x 6 feet backlit double sided display for ads.

Click on the images to view bigger sizeOn why these were introduced in Chattisgarh, Gupta says, "I am originally from Chattisgarh, but lived and worked in Mumbai for some time. Initially, I took the concept to Navi Mumbai Corp., but I faced a lot of politics and regionalism, and was not given a chance. Tired and frustrated, I decided to launch the concept in my home town, Raipur. My determination to implement my concept brought me back here."

Gupta has set up the project with an initial investment of Rs 5 lakh. Ten adrickshaws have been launched in Raipur, Bhilai and Durg. The number will be increased to 30 to cover all of Chattisgarh, including the rural areas.

Adrickshaws began their journey with Reliance Mobile Smart GSM in Raipur, and went on to cover all of Chattisgarh. Other local clients include Vishal Megamart, Apna Bazaar and Kishore Mall. "While local players will form a big part of the client base, it doesn't stop national players from reaching out and tapping small towns and rural areas," says Gupta.

The campaigns can run for between 15 days and two months. The cost of advertising is Rs 500 per day per adrickshaw. It takes about an hour to stretch a flex on an adrickshaw. The rickshaw rider can also wear the brand message or uniform, and be trained to give out information.

"Such vehicles will provide advertising and interactivity with the target audience. The adrickshaws offer a complete package of sight, sound, interactivity and taste. Let me tell you how each of these elements come into play," says Gupta. "Sight in the form of the backlit ad, which provides an excellent view to both a mobile and standing audience. Sound in the form of recorded audio delivered on DVD/MP3 format, which provides clarity."

Interactivity is the third element. All rickshaw riders are promoters in the client's uniforms and interact with the target group. Gupta adds, "The eligibility standard for rickshaw riders is that they must have passed Class 10, and have some knowledge of English as well as the local language. They are trained to be well informed about the product or service being advertised. They distribute flyers and brochures, and can fill up short response forms or contest forms."

Gupta adds, "The fourth element is taste or experience. For example, a telecom company can install a GPRS/ GSM modem inside the rickshaw, which sends free ringtones/ SMS offers to anyone within a range of three metres of the rickshaw. Sampling of products can be done for an FMCG company."

After covering Chattisgarh, Gupta plans to introduce the adrickshaws in the Vidarbha region. "Our effort is to provide advertisers a combination of OOH and BTL (below-the-line), a perfect rural advertising medium."

The adrickshaws were launched on April 19. Gupta claims that the response has been fantastic. "While people are used to seeing rickshaws making announcements, they never expect to see a backlit display, clear sound, well dressed and presentable rickshaw riders distributing flyers. Everyone who has seen the images or adrickshaws in person has appreciated it," he says.

The agency also plans to launch e-rickshaws or electric rickshaws in October. These come with battery fitted motors, which, once charged, can cover distances of about 80km. This will help in covering more ground.

Gupta has more than a decade of experience with agencies such as TDI India (airport advertising), MOMS, Madison Retail Paradigm, Hansa Outsell (the OOH division of RK Swamy) and Network Media Solutions.

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