Nisha Qureshi

Dabbawalas and Vi collaborate to enhance the network's quality

The activation is a simple yet effective way of testing VIs network across Mumbai.

Vi recently collaborated with Mumbai’s Dabbawalas- often regarded as Mumbai’s strongest and oldest network for an experimental campaign. The campaign that has been conceptualised by Ogilvy India, had Dabbawalas test Vi’s GIGAnet to understand where the network was seamless and where it needed strengthening on parameters such as data, voice calling, video streaming.

Mumbai's Dabbawalas are a  lunchbox delivery and return system that delivers hot lunches from homes and restaurants to people at work in Mumbai. The Dabbawalas are believed to almost never making a mistake when it comes to deliveries.  4,500 to 5,000 Dabbawalas deliver 175,000 and 200,000 lunch boxes everyday and it is frequently claimed that Dabbawalas make less than one mistake in every six million deliveries. The concept behind the Vi campaign was that Dabbawalas due to their expertise are able to reach every nook and corner of the city. Hence, they would be the perfect partners for the campaign and can easily test Vi’s network across the city.

The Dabbawalas reported their experience of Vi in different parts of the city and communicated it further to the Vi teams via voice notes, videos, and live location sharing. Based on their feedback, a team of Vi network engineers continued to reinforce the network in locations from where they reported weaker experiences.

Speaking about the insights behind the campaign, Ogilvy India CCOs Kainaz Karmakar and Harshad Rajadhyaksha say Vi has been very vocal about working on bettering its network strength. So when Ogilvy suggested a collaboration with Dabbawalas, the brand agreed this was a lateral and creative way to learn about network strength and was excited and partnered with them wholeheartedly.

Vi’s network was tested across 22 wards and over 550 locations in the city with the help of Dabbawalas. Speaking about the execution of the campaign at such a scale, the duo says, “Krishnakant Mishra, who heads our brand activation, took the lead in getting the Dabbawala partnership organised. It took a long time for us to get the logistics in place cause Vi wanted to do it right. Once the phones were handed over, the dabbawalas had to use them as they did. In the world that we live in, everyone is constantly on their phones, doing different things. There was a WhatsApp system set up to send back their feedback after each use.”

The campaign is tailored to Mumbai's urban tapestry and is amplified through a concise 90-second film featured on select channels. Further amplification is anticipated via outdoor media and social media presence.

Asked if there will be other legs of the campaign in different cities and how challenging will it be to catch the nuances for each city, they say, “It is not simple to do across the country, but it is possible. For example, we could tie up with the postal service.”

A number of notable campaigns from Ogilvy have had technology and AI at the forefront, asked if the absence of the same for this campaign was a conscious decision for them, they say, “This idea is something that is based on improving ‘tech’. It doesn’t have AI because it doesn’t demand AI. The power of this lies in showing the grit of a century-old network that reaches places where modern networks may or may not reach. The dabbawalas were monitored by Vi and the network testing was done through WhatsApp responses after every use case. The mobile was front and center of this idea and that’s all the tech it needs.”

It must be noted that Mumbai's Dabbawalas have been used in several other advertising campaigns. For example, to announce the launch of KFC’s 5-in-1 Meal box, the brand partnered with the Dabbawalas. Several thousand people were surpurised with complimentary 5-in-1 Meal boxes along with their regular meal on that special day.

Similarly, in the run up to 2016 ICC World Cup, Nissan embarked on a ‘Dabbawala Challenge’, that involved Zaheer Khan, 5th Gear TV star Jonny Smith and a Dabbawala. Khan and Smith navigate the streets in a Nissan Sunny to try and deliver the ICC World Twenty20 Trophy to a local school before the Dabbawala can deliver lunch to the school’s head.

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