LED-fitted auto-rickshaws to wheel around NCR

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In OOH News | March 12, 2009
NGO Nyayabhoomi to offers advertisers ad space on auto-rickshaws in NCR

Nyayabhoomi, an NGO working with auto-rickshaw drivers for the betterment of the public transport system in the national capital region (NCR), has come up with an initiative called the 'Autorickshaw Star Club' (ASC). Through this initiative, the NGO will offer auto-rickshaw branding opportunities to advertisers.

The NGO has been working with auto-rickshaw drivers since 2002, to help address their problems. Around 8,000 drivers are registered with it.

For this initiative, it has tied up with approximately 1,000 auto-rickshaws for this initiative; and 500 more will be added each month after April.

From the advertiser's' perspective, this is a CSR (corporate social responsibility) activity , as the primary objective is to offer auto drivers a better living, and provide better services to commuters. Considering that the Commonwealth Games are round the corner, this is also an effort to bring about a change in the way people travel in auto-rickshaws.

The NGO, along with its partner, Shades of Yellow (SOY) Communications, a brand communication agency, has been working on this project for the past three months. Diya Singhal, CEO, SOY Communications, says, "A part of the revenue that will come from this effort will be used for providing education for the children of the auto drivers, and also an insurance cover for the drivers."

For starters, the soft top of rickshaws will be replaced with hard tops, the backs of which will be fitted with a 3 ft x 2 ft LED screen. The sides will be fitted with 2ft x 1 ft LED screens, and all three spaces will be made available to advertisers. The initial investment for this will be made by Nyayabhoomi, which is also looking for partners for this. The cost of modification per vehicle would be around Rs 8,000-10,000.

ASC will also ensure that the drivers are courteous and properly dressed. To become part of this initiative, drivers have to register with the ASC, following which they will also be trained in rules and etiquette.

Branding will be offered on 75 per cent of the exterior and 100 per cent of the interior of the auto-rickshaw. Inside the rickshaw, brands can place pamphlets, brochures, and so on in specially created pockets. These rickshaws can also be used as brand activation points, where semi-educated drivers could help in the process. For example, for a telecom company giving away free SIM cards, the drivers could help the passengers to fill the forms.

Initial estimates suggest that advertisers will have to shell out around Rs 120 per day per auto for the branding. However, a minimum quarterly commitment for 100 rickshaws will be needed.

ASC is already in talks with telecom, finance, insurance, consumer durables and other mass consumption brands for this. To start with, Delhi will be the focus market, but going forward, ASC will try to replicate the same model across the country. Singhal adds, "This is a great branding idea and may work well in a number of other cities."

She adds that while the feedback received has been positive, one fear in the minds of clients is the maintenance and monitoring of these rickshaws. However, she assures, "Rickshaw drivers will report to the office once a week for updates and a report will be given to the client."

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