Shreyas Kulkarni

Cleartrip roots for the passport as a travel document, and not as an identity proof in its latest campaign

Made in-house, the travel company's new brand head says Indians prefer nearby locales today to long-haul ones.

The travel industry, in 2021, took careful steps towards normalcy after reeling from a near two-year Covid turbulence. In 2022, it is taking a bold step to restore the true purpose of one of its most powerful assets — the passport.

Assumed for long as nothing but identity proof used to avail various private and public services, travel company Cleartrip, in a new campaign, called for the passport to regain its purpose as a travel document citing affordable international flight rates.

Featuring stand-up comic Biswa Kalyan Rath, the campaign, made in-house, literally gives the passport a voice which moans against its disuse as a travel document and pleads to see a few “colourful stamps” on itself.

“Only five per cent of Indians possess a valid passport,” states Shubham Khurana, Cleartip’s head of brand marketing. It, however, is not, a pessimistic statistic.

He says despite the low percentage, international travel from India is returning post the lockdown(s) and is expected to “triple in the next three years… Unfortunately, very few people today use the passport for anything beyond an I.D. proof.”

In an amusing yet ironic remark, he says India stands third after China and the United States when it comes to issuing the passport.

The passport, for the brand head, is not only a travel document which lets you visit places, but countries are also ranked based on the strength of their passports.

“This is where we started, the premise came from the numbers,” he remarks.

The ad mentions return tickets to Singapore at Rs 18,999 and Maldives at Rs 15,999, it aims to catch the eye of the 18-35-year-olds who, Khurana says, fly the most and contribute to 66% of India’s overall trips.

Cleartrip is focusing on getting the Indians to fly abroad. It has its work cut out because Indians are not the most adventurous fliers and in the past two years, the wanderlust of India had risen since international travel was grounded because of the pandemic.

While the house arrest on international travel no longer stands, it will take until 2024 for the volume of trips made annually to mimic the numbers of 2019 says, Khurana and adds that compared to 2019, international passenger share had fallen to 26% in 2021.

As for where Indians wish to travel, “a lot of short-haul distances to places like Dubai or Southeast Asia”. These destinations are being increasingly preferred over the United States, Canada, and the UK considering their unnaturally long visa interview and issuance lines. “We’re talking short-haul travel with visa on arrival or quick visa,” states Khurana.

It is then not surprising to see Phuket, Maldives, and Singapore mentioned in the ads over tried-and-tested spots in Europe or the US.

What was, however, surprising to learn was the origin of the ad; it was made in-house by Cleartrip’s creative team and not an advertising agency.

“It comes from a strong belief that we understand our brand and our consumers the best. The most insightful creative work comes from the in-house team,” remarks the brand head and says the company intends to build an agency within the company.

This does not mean Cleartip will fly solo on its campaigns from now onwards. It will sit down with advertising agencies for its big marketing campaigns while its in-house team will keep working on its near-everyday marketing activities.

The company, as per Khurana, is a challenger brand and intends to expand and take the market by storm. It will spend a good amount of its marketing monies on digital because that is where most of its customers choose to fly these days.

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