Ananya Pathak

“I don’t think brands should be focusing on moment marketing at all”: OYO’s Mayur Hola

In view of the brand’s latest campaign, we spoke to OYO Hotels & Homes’ head of global brand about how COVID-19 has affected the hospitality sector.

The world is grappling with the rapidly spreading Coronavirus pandemic. Essential service providers are among those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 fight. So, as a token of appreciation for such individuals, and also spread awareness on ways to curb COVID-19, OYO has rolled out three digital films – 'Everyday Heroes', 'Ditch the Handshake, Do the Namaste', and 'Heroes of OYO'.

Conceptualised in-house by the brand, ‘Namaste' has been released globally, while the other two are being promoted pan-India.

We spoke with Mayur Hola, head of global brand, OYO Hotels & Homes, over phone on the ideation and execution of the films, and how COVID-19 has affected the hospitality sector.

Hola says that each film was conceived differently. Speaking of the first film, he says the government has permitted the brand to serve those people who might need help, and that OYO hotels are open for them. “In the communication, we didn't just want to say we're open. We wanted to say who we were open for, which is the first responders and essential services professionals, who are dedicating their efforts to fighting the spread of the novel Coronavirus.”

Mayur Hola
Mayur Hola

The film captures such heroes, who aren't at liberty to work from home or self-isolate themselves, including doctors, journalists, policemen, cleaners, among others.

‘Namaste’, Hola shares, is a lighthearted take on the importance of social distancing in these trying times. With doodles on Coronavirus, the film aims to spread the message of reducing the risk of infection by opting to limit physical contact.

About the third film of the campaign, Hola says it is the brand’s attempt to acknowledge its own people – partners, hotel staff – for their efforts to keep the business going.

Speaking of the execution, he shares that 'Everyday Heroes' and 'Heroes of OYO' were created from footage, and produced by Flying Elephant Films and Hue – both Delhi-based film production houses, respectively.

'Ditch the Handshake, Do the Namaste' was executed by Eeksaurus, a Mumbai-based design-driven film production house, in a week’s time.

On the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality sector, Hola said, “I think COVID-19 in general has affected all of us, frankly, leave alone businesses that it has impacted greatly, of course. Travel and hospitality, as an industry, has been massively affected. We are not immune to it.”

“Even though we are affected at this point, we are happy to help people, who are stranded out there in these difficult hours. We also have great hopes from our country as it slowly will open up, and we’ll make a strong comeback,” he adds.

So, how does he see consumer behaviour changing post lockdown? “A lot of us will be much more careful about how and where we spend our money, at least for a short period when all this is over,” he responds.

Hola says that affordability with quality is one of the key strengths of the brand.

On the major focus area of the brand once the lockdown is lifted, Hola lists three. “The first one would be to ensure that we communicate to our audience that our spaces are safe and sanitised.”

“Future planning will also be one our key focus areas,” he adds.

Hola also believes that in general, relationships have been on hold for a while now. “When this is over, people would like to meet their near and dear ones. Therefore, one of our focus points would also be to enable this meeting for people.”

Talking about how the role of a marketer has changed in these difficult times, Hola says that marketers should now be focusing on cementing relations with consumers. “Brand thinking in times of COVID-19 should focus on the health of the brand. And I don’t think brands should be focusing on moment marketing at all for now,” he signs off.

The digital films are live across OYO’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter platforms.