Shreyas Kulkarni

Ola wants you to take an autorickshaw

The latest ad by the Bengaluru-based ride hailing company talks about its auto offering, and especially how safe and affordable it is.

The Coronavirus pandemic drove us indoors and the lockdowns sealed our fate. The past few months were hard on both the mind and the body.

Now, things are a bit different. While the threat of the Coronavirus still looms large, there are no pressures as far as the lockdowns go. We've finally, for the lack of a better word, 'unlocked'.

Many offices have reopened, and while all of them follow the mandated safety precautions, for employees, getting to office is a challenge. They are concerned about the risk of infection on public transport. Not everyone has a car, and they may not want to hire a cab. So, for such folks, Ola has released an ad touting its 'hail an auto' offering.

The 56-second ad portrays the concern all office goers face these days. We see a woman in her office (perhaps, one of the first COVID-era office scenes in an ad) calling her colleague Rahul because he's late for a meeting. He says that he will be late as he has to "find an auto while maintaining social distancing."

She asks him to book an Ola, and when Rahul says that he's searching for an auto, not a cab, she states than Ola also has autos. (Rahul's expression is like most of us, who only associate Ola with cabs.)

When Rahul says that autos will be expensive, she responds by saying they're not and the fares have actually been reduced. She also says that the autos are safe, thanks to Ola's '5 layers of safety', i.e.,

  1. The autos are cleaned before every ride.

  2. They are fumigated thrice a week.

  3. There is a protective screen between the driver and the rider.

  4. The drivers have regular temperature checks.

  5. They always wear masks.

The 'fares have reduced' point is interesting because most of us believed fares would increase. After all, people and firms would want to recover lost revenue during lockdowns. Then there's also the fact that fares may have reduced considerably now with people working from home.

Amod Dani
Amod Dani

Amod Dani, executive creative director, Leo Burnett Orchard, the agency behind the ad, said, "Slowly, people are stepping out. Work is picking up, but with necessary restrictions and precautions. Ola’s '5 layers of safety' campaign is a way to ensure that the passengers move about with a sense of confidence. We wanted to make sure that these safety features come across in an authentic manner."

"People will have doubts, but there will always be those who will help bring in a sense of conviction. The conversation between the work colleagues is intended to reflect that. We made sure that the conversation was reassuring and aptly indexed on the specific codes of safety. In times like these, safety and caution is a priority and that’s why Ola Auto’s '5 layers of safety' needed to be clearly voiced out in a humble, yet reassuring way."

Ola's main competition in India is Uber. A Times Now report on August 18 quoted Shiva Shailendran, general manager, North and West India, Uber, as saying, "As citizens resume travel in the 'new normal', we are seeing low-cost products, especially our auto category, recover faster, as compared to other modes. With our comprehensive in-app safety measures, reliable door-to-door service and affordable prices, we are confident that the autos will unlock demand, as we scale up our service in new cities across India."

With affordable fares and more people opting for it, the 'auto hailing' offering seems to be riding at a high speed.

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