Abid Hussain Barlaskar

OYO sings about 'room ka jugaad'

OYO's ads are on TV, radio, Facebook, TikTok, ShareChat, Instagram and YouTube. After driving hard on expansion for the last few years, the brand is now looking at aggressive advertising. Its latest ad is a music video featuring Knox Artiste and is ridden with millennial lingo.

Why does one book a hotel room? For accommodation, of course. Is that the only reason? Also perhaps for a quick friendly get together and a ‘party’, maybe. This is the hint in one of OYO’s latest bunch of ad films which also doubles up as a music video. The video is part of the brand’s latest campaign which comprises three other ad films as well. Sung by musician Knox Artiste, the anthem-like rhythm probably aims to make the repetitive ‘Oyo yo yo’ stick to the consumers’ minds. The video also highlights topics like ‘friends’, ‘ease’, ‘pocket-friendliness’ etc. While the video isn’t at all the ‘travel and living’ type, the three other films (TVCs) from the campaign highlight private space, good accommodation and the ease of accessing the aforementioned services.

However, OYO as an advertiser hasn’t had too many beeps on our radar over the years and this campaign could very well be the brand’s ‘Get! Set! Go!’ in terms of its advertising journey. The brand has gone all out with its media plan making TV, radio and digital platforms like TikTok, YouTube and ShareChat a part of it. Aggressive branding of OYO operated hotels doubles up as its outdoor ads.

Gaurav Ajmera, COO, OYO Hotels & Homes – India, tells afaqs! that the music video is in continuation of the TVCs that have millennials, business travellers and families as their target audience. While he disagrees that the the video is supposed to look like a ‘party venue’ use case, he says that it would depend on how the communication is perceived and later interpreted. He explains that the song helps extend the ‘Raho mast with OYO’ and the ‘OYO Yo Yo’ identities from the TV to digital domains. “The objective was not to drive transactions but to create virality around the brand in a way that it would appeal to the larger chunk of our target segments, the millennials - aged between 20-34 years.”

Gaurav Ajmera, COO, OYO Hotels & Homes – India
Gaurav Ajmera, COO, OYO Hotels & Homes – India

We asked him if there were plans to propagate the music video on radio since the campaign already had a significant audio aspect to it. “Not currently, because we just had our radio campaign which ran during our winter sale that ended on December 3. We did not want to overdo radio and preferred to keep the campaign more internet based,” Ajmera responds.

“Once we zeroed in on what we wanted, we decided that apart from the catchy tune, the communication should also include OYO’s propositions (like affordability etc.). Our team spent time with the artist and highlighted the promises of the brand. We came down to a list of 10 to 12 things that needed to be mentioned. We decided to go ahead with the OYO Townhouse property as the venue since it is targeted at millennials,” he adds.

However, despite having a really wide and fast expanding footprint as a brand, OYO hasn’t been a big advertiser so far. This probably is the brand’s first big outing. Why, we ask.

"Much of our marketing effort so far has been directed towards branding our OYO properties."
Gaurav Ajmera

“Much of our marketing effort so far has been directed towards branding our OYO properties. That is where the investment has been. In the first four to five years of OYO’s journey, we have majorly been in the top 100-150 cities. Mediums like YouTube and Facebook, coupled with organic conversations, were driving our KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Over the last 18 months, we have spread out to about 500 cities - into the width and depth of the country. While we always knew that the orthodox marketing channels were not enough, we realised that TV was the best medium to reach the wide customer base. This was the key reason behind the brand campaign. We were thinking about doing it for the last few months and decided to do it in December since it was the peak season,” Ajmera says.

Once the expansion plans were in place, it was time to to connect to the population in areas around cities that bore the OYO footprint. “Our research revealed that a city like Bhilai gets visitors from Durg, Ranchi and many other nearby smaller towns. Our ability to reach them was limited and our recall value in those markets was very low since we were just getting there,” he reveals.

And guess who stepped into OYO’s scene...

Ajmera opens up about the brand’s media strategy saying, “Over the last several months, we were building our recall via mediums like TikTok which we have been using for the last 10 months now. We wanted to go even deeper in markets where even communicating in English was an issue. That’s when we decided to use ShareChat (social media startup in Indian languages). Once we felt that we had achieved a basic goal, we decided to do a TV ad. The TVCs which are being propagated in six languages and over 33 per cent of the spots are in regional languages like Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi and Bengali.”

The TV ads have been crafted by OYO’s in-house creative team led by Mayur Hola, former NCD of Havas whom OYO roped in earlier this year as the creative head for India and South-East Asia. The influencer-led music video campaign in collaboration with Knox Artiste has been led by OYO's in-house influencer marketing team. OYO also has an external agency partner in the form of Animal, a Delhi-based agency. Speaking about the work flow between the in-house team and the external partner, Ajmera says, “We are a very ROI-focused company. All campaigns start with the message we want to drive and the outcome or the key KPI we want to achieve. And that is done with Mayur (Hola), who is our in-house industry expert and the one who takes the creative call. Mayur and I work very closely almost on a daily basis. Once the campaign aspects are clear, it is taken over by his team who further co-ordinate necessary work with the external agency.”

Speaking about the future of OYO’s advertising in India, Ajmera says, “I think we will continue to spend decently on brand campaigns. And for the next year, we will be seen much more regularly because we will be going deeper in the existing 500 cities. There won’t just be spurts of campaigns here and there. Although we do not have a clear plan in place, we will continue to invest in brand campaigns.”

Industry speak:

Carlton D'Silva, CEO and CCO, Hungama Digital Services, says, “I believe they are trying to appeal to their younger audience judging from their choice of artist and genre.

Carlton D'Silva
Carlton D'Silva

“Usually, when a brand opts for this form of marketing (make a music video... everyone will sing our song), the most pertinent thing to do is to get the song right. Pepsi did that with their 'Har Ghoont Mein Swag' song with Badshah. Sadly, this one does not work. If I would have done this, I would have included TikTok in the mix and added a dance step to draw engagement from the community and get more bang for my buck. I don't see people recalling the 'O Yo Yo' song when they are looking to book their stay,” D'Silva elaborates.

Shrenik Gandhi, CEO and co-founder, White Rivers Media, says, “The song is catchy, will resonate with the young audience and will travel across groups too. The song's lyrics must be paid special attention to, as it has a lot of short statements generally used by the millennials and Gen Z.”

Shrenik Gandhi
Shrenik Gandhi

“It’s a fresh approach by the brand to hit out to the ‘party enthusiastic youth’. These youth are generally tight on budgets and may not be able to afford a luxury/semi-luxury hotel, yet have aspirations to party/stay in Instagram worthy places. In that regard, the campaign scores a good set of points. Kudos to the efforts of the brand,” Gandhi adds.

Prashant Nair, associate creative director, FoxyMoron says, “Lyrics are good. They capture the feel. This alone can fetch surprisingly good performance for the video. O..Yo...Yo is very catchy and does stick in the mind.”

Prashant Nair
Prashant Nair

“However, the set-up is decent but lacks ‘swag’ in terms of visual transitions, lack of ‘copy text’ overlays (like in between 0:04 seconds and 0:06 seconds) and ‘pop artsy' icons, etc. The initial bit is too long. The pace of the visual is slower than the tempo/energy of the music. Lighting direction used in the video is average and that affects the output. For lack of better words, it looks a bit ‘dingy’. It looks like there has been no colour correction done on the video. The artist has performed well, but he could have been made to do many things,” he adds.

“But at the end of the day, every asset can serve some objective. And if this was targeted only towards the Tier 2 segment, it would work wonderfully well,” Nair signs off.

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