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First ads for Ola Auto hit TV screens

By Suraj Ramnath , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | November 14, 2017
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The brand has launched two ad films, in four languages - Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. The campaign has been created by Happy mcgarrybowen.

Mobile transportation app Ola has been advertising its cab hailing services for a while now. But now, for the first time, we see a TV commercial from Ola with an auto, instead of a taxi, in it.

The company launched Ola Auto, a mobile app-based service through which commuters can call for an auto-rickshaw, couple of years back in Bengaluru and Chennai. Today, Ola Auto has within its fold 1.2 lakh autos, across 73 cities in India.

To promote the service, the brand has launched its first couple of TVCs for it. The two 26-seconders are part of a campaign built around the catchphrase 'Auto Bole Toh Ola Auto'. The ads are in four languages - Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. The campaign has been created by Happy mcgarrybowen, creative agency from the stable of Dentsu Aegis Network.

The ads show two very relatable-looking places, a supermarket and a college classroom. When the characters in the ads make plans to bounce from their current locations and take an auto to their respective desired destinations, computer graphics invade the screen and in comes a 'super auto'; the vehicle comes zooming in, breaking all physical barriers, with a reassuringly dumpy looking driver asking them, with a smile, 'Bulaya kya?'

Talking about the brand's first TV outing for this relatively new service, Kartik Iyer, chief executive officer, Happy mcgarrybowen, says, "The objective is to provide an option to auto users... Today, typically, when you go out and hail an auto, you have to go with the price that the auto driver demands..." (Yes, Mumbaikars, we see you nodding in disagreement!)

Kartik Iyer Kartik Iyer

Iyer goes on, "...But with Ola, everything is fixed. The price is fixed. You call and he (the auto driver) will come and pick you up from wherever you are and drop you wherever you want to go. If you have Ola Money (mobile wallet), then you don't even have to pay him cash." Speaking of mobile wallets, recall that Paytm, in one of its early commercials, used the context of an auto journey to promote its product as an escape from 'chuttay ki jhig jhig' (Hindi for fuss over change).

We learn that the auto category is responding fairly well to this service, which targets commuters who routinely use autos, especially for shorter distances and for 'everyday chores/trips' of the kind shown in the ads. "There are certain markets like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra where auto rickshaws are still very popular and the demand hasn't changed despite the presence of cars/cabs," he says.

Ola has been advertising its cab-hailing service for quite some time. About the process of creating the first ever TV campaign for the auto part of the service, Iyer tells us, "Ola is not just about cabs; it's about mobility. It is not a cab-hailing service, but a platform on which you can book the vehicle you need. It was the first brand to onboard autos onto their platform approximately two years back. In fact, around then, Ola also introduced Kali-Peeli cabs in Mumbai onto its platform. So it is a question of providing access to customers on the basis of their travel requirement, and creating an opportunity for the people providing it."

Quick Review

While comedy has its merits, we wonder whether the brand would've done well to show a more 'real' environment - with commuters on the street using the app to call for an Ola Auto, minus the graphics, perhaps? After all, the process of physically hailing an auto can be tedious and annoying.

Harmeet Singh Harmeet Singh

Harmeet Singh, creative director, Serviceplan India, says, "... that wouldn't have made a difference at this point. After all, advertising is a form of exaggerated reality...," adding about the execution, "Ola Auto has used the location or surroundings very cleverly, especially the way, in one of the ads, the auto is shown entering a departmental store, quite literally. It looks very quirky and funny when seen from a viewer's point of view."

Should the brand have demonstrated the 'ease of booking' aspect, with zoomed in shots of the mobile app being navigated by the commuters in the ads? Singh says, "The process of booking an Ola Auto is already very easy. There is nothing more to show in this respect," evidently pre-supposing a certain degree of 'Ola-Uber' literacy.

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