Shree Balaji Enterprise and Momenta Global win branding rights to 300 NMMT Volvo buses

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In OOH News | April 12, 2010
NMMT operates low floor Volvo buses and has awarded the branding rights of these buses to the two companies that have come together for the project

Transit advertising is getting bigger and better and one of the reasons is that transport options are getting better in terms of comfort, design and aesthetics. Also, following international standards, these vehicles are made swankier with the help of growing ad revenues coming in through brands that want to flaunt their logos and communication messages on the attractive surfaces.

Bus branding is one such transit advertising option that is gaining ground - and how! The Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT), which operates 300 low floor Volvo buses, has recently awarded the branding rights of these buses to two companies that have come together for this project.

Beginning April 1, the companies, Shree Balaji Enterprise and Momenta Global, have rights to these buses on a build, operate, transfer (BOT) basis for a 10 year period. The bid started a few months ago and other companies in the fray included Ashok Leyland, JP Infotech and Red Eye.

For the record, Shree Balaji Enterprise is a sister concern of the Century Advertising Group, Chennai, which has been in the outdoor industry for 25 years. The company is mainly present in the south in cities such as Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai. Momenta Global, on the other hand, is a technology, media and telecommunications company based in Bengaluru.

Why the decision to tie up? Chethan Kakanur, director, information services, Momenta Global, says, "Shree Balaji has a lot of experience in outdoor media and we've had a long standing relationship with it even in the south with other projects."

Shree Balaji and Momenta Global will pay Rs 15 crore to NMMT as the royalty for the entire period and an additional Rs 15 crore will be invested in the add-ons and other services in these buses. The company plans to break even in five years.

Of the 300 buses, 50 are air conditioned, while 250 are non-AC buses. In the first phase, 200 buses will offer branding as planned, while the next 100 will be rolled out in the next phase. NMMT has approximately 52 lakh passengers travelling on its buses in a month. Being long distance buses, these have fewer standees and more seated passengers. The routes are Belapur to Borivali; Belapur to Bandra; and Belapur to Mantralaya.

Some of the add-ons in the buses will include LCD screens, GPS, Wi-Fi, PIS (Passenger Information System), bullet proof glasses for security purposes and customised branding. Announcements of stops will be made in three languages - Marathi, English and Hindi and the same will be showcased on the full screen of the LCD - benefitting the foreign or new commuters in Mumbai as well as the deaf and blind.

The buses will have interior and exterior branding options. Apart from the usual external branding options that currently prevail on buses in Mumbai, these buses will have branding on the uniforms of the drivers and the conductors, which is a first in this medium. The interiors will also have a kiosk where brands can place their products, thereby promoting the distribution of the products and making it a point of purchase media for the travellers. Inside the buses, full roof branding, sampling of the products and feedback forms can be distributed.

While multiple brands can advertise on a bus at the same time, if a single brand were to take up all the properties, the cost to advertise on these buses would be about Rs 1.6 lakh per bus per month. A brand would have to opt for minimum 25 buses, informs Kakanur.

For interior branding, the intention is to target local brands, while the external branding will be mostly used by national and bigger brands. He shares that 80 per cent of the total cost mentioned is for external branding and thus these brands will have to have deeper pockets.

The company also plans to create a website of NMMT, where all the information about the buses and the routes can be accessed by passengers and tourists. All the ads played on the screens inside the buses will also be played on the website.

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