OOH (out of home) firm Peacock Media's Airtel campaign on the Rajdhani won it a bronze at the prestigious Singapore Outdoor Advertising Awards in 2008. Since then, train branding has come a long way.
Branding inside long distance trains is being done now across formats with panels, audio advertisement clips over microphones and uniforms of housekeeping staff carrying ad messages. Peacock Media has worked its magic once again on the Rajdhani, this time for a tourism board - Kerala Tourism.
In the stunning moving showcase, Kerala's scenic grandeur now careens through the vast expanse of India as a Rajdhani train, vinyl pasted with the picturesque imagery of 'God's Own Country'. The colourful Trivandrum Rajdhani was launched recently from Hazrat Nizamuddin station in Delhi by the Union minister for tourism, Kumari Selja and the tourism minister of Kerala, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
The awe-inspiring campaign with life-size pictures and high quality production was conceptualized by Stark Communications, Trivandrum, a full-service advertising agency. The images for the vinyl graphics covering the exteriors of the coaches were shot extensively over a period of 25 days and eight to ten images were stitched together to form a composite picture for each coach.
As the train moves through states, it will advertise Kerala's tourist spots among millions of potential domestic tourists. The travelling showcase is expected to reach out to more than three crore people across 10 states, including Delhi and NCR, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Karnataka as well as Kerala.
The train, with its new tag line, 'Chalo Kerala' in Hindi and 'Go Kerala' in English printed in white colour on these images, will journey through the heart of India for a period of six months (till June 2010).
This kind of branding of a train's façade costs approximately Rs 1.2 crore for a period of six months, while the total branding, including audio inside the train, ad panels, staff branding and activations, could cost about Rs 1.5 crore for the same period.
"Kerala is the first tourism destination to use train branding to promote the state in what will be one of the most visible and high impact campaigns ever undertaken by Kerala Tourism. I am confident that this unique marketing activity will showcase Kerala and attract more and more Indian travellers to the state," says Balakrishnan.
The agency has a five year contract with the Indian Railways and this includes improving services inside the trains as well. As the Trivandrum Rajdhani chugs across the country, it will offer a new travel experience to people with upgraded facilities inside the train. "In terms of maintenance, we have a full-fledged professional facility management and housekeeping agency which maintains the train throughout the journey with on-board housekeeping services," adds Chawla.
Such advertising within trains, therefore, builds a responsible brand image as the services offered are seen as the brands' CSR initiative. It also has an extremely long attention span, with 16-36 hours spent in the train in the case of Rajdhani trains.
While the concept is still taking off slowly in India, internationally, external train branding has been done on a large scale. The Gatwick Express, which is a non-stop rail link between Gatwick Airport and central London, provides the same OOH advertising option, with the advertisement pasted across the train's exterior. Amtrak in the USA also turned its premium Boston-Washington service into a moving billboard.
"It is a new medium and the market has to accept the same, which in turn will decide the potential revenue for the medium," offers Chawla.