Dial 139 banks on humour to drill in recall

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | September 26, 2008
Bharat BPO, which handles Indian Railways' helpline number, 139, has launched humorous radio commercials to create stickiness

Kids & #BANNER1 & # often come up with innocent, yet embarrassing, questions, putting parents in a quandary. Bharat BPO, the business processing company that's handling the Indian Railways' helpline number, 139, is using these questions in its radio commercials to promote the number amongst rail travellers.

Leo Burnett, the agency handling the account, has conceptualised two such commercials. In one, a child is heard asking his father why he is not present in his parents' wedding photographs. In the second, the same child asks his father why he cannot marry his grandmother (his father's mother) when his father could marry his (the child's) mother. The conversation is followed by a male voiceover: "You may not get answers for some questions, but you will get them for all queries pertaining to Indian Railways."

The radio commercials have been conceptualised by creative director Sainath Saraban of Leo Burnett.

The commercials for 'Dial 139 - Rail Sampark' are being aired on Radio Mirchi, Big FM, My FM and Radio City, across 30 cities, including metros such as Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.

Shubhendu Ranjan Deb, general manager, marketing, Bharat BPO, tells afaqs!, "The media plan has been designed keeping in mind that these 30 cities get us 70-75 per cent of all calls, and these radio stations have the widest reach in these cities."

The brief for the agency, according to Deb, was to "present Dial 139 as a travel companion and present it in an interesting way".

Bharat BPO has four servers in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata for Dial 139, which has an IVR system, answering queries related to booking railway tickets, PNR status, fare enquiry, accommodation, Tatkal seats, journey planning, concessions, cancellation rules, refund rules, trains between stations and train timings.

Four customer care centres in Noida, Ahmedabad, Mysore and Chennai handle any specific queries that cannot be handled by the IVR system.

Deb plans to come up with a TV commercial, too, at a later stage. "Currently, we are addressing these 30 cities only. As the market grows and gets wider and there is an opportunity to invite more people, we'll come up with a TVC," he says.

On why humour was used, Deb says, "People do not travel every day. So, to drill in recall of the number 139, we had to present the communication in an interesting way. In this case, humour creates stickiness in my target audience's mind."