Aditi Srivastava

FreeCharge rides on Mumbai Metro

The month-long OOH campaign is being executed along the Versova-Ghatkopar metro route.

Commuting from one end of the city to another for work or for any other purpose is a common part of most people's daily routine and is tiring, frustrating and time consuming. But, the metro rail changed all that. In cities like Delhi and Mumbai, it is certainly a blessing. But, having said that, the painfully long queues at the metro station ticket counters often dampen one's spirits rather than lift them.

FreeCharge rides on Mumbai Metro
Therefore, in order to make things easier for Mumbaikars, FreeCharge, the online recharge platform, has brought out its month-long outdoor campaign for metro trains that ply along the Versova-Ghatkopar route. The campaign rolled out on November 1.
FreeCharge rides on Mumbai Metro
Conceptualised by Lowe Lintas, the out-of-home campaign has made extensive use of internal branding such as internal panels, handles and below the seat advertising inside the metro trains. Twelve metro stations have been used for outdoor branding. These are Versova, D N Nagar, Azad Nagar, Andheri, Western Express Highway(WEH), Chakala, Airport Road, Marol, Saki Naka, Asalpha, Jagruti Nagar and Ghatkopar. The brand has advertised on six of the nine trains that ply along this route. In addition to this, it has also taken to large format hoardings in Ghatkopar.
FreeCharge rides on Mumbai Metro
The campaign has targetted youth in the age bracket of 18-30 years. As part of this campaign, all commuters travelling during the month-long period, can avail of an inaugural 'call to action' offer of Rs 100 cashback on Rs 100 metro recharge. The objective of the campaign is to reduce time and money inefficiencies at metro station ticket counters by motivating commuters to recharge online through FreeCharge. Meanwhile, the recharge for metro card can be availed either via the website or the app, where the brand boasts of 10 million downloads on Google Play Store alone!
FreeCharge rides on Mumbai Metro
Interestingly, the brand has no plans for offline advertising. Rather, it intends to promote the outdoor campaign by means of a major social media contest on Twitter, as well as on Facebook. The digital contest would be live by end of next week, in which people will tweet a selfie while riding on the Mumbai Metro along the route. Also, the brand has plans to churn out high quality, insightful digital content around the same time.

Another unique feature of the ongoing campaign is its deliberate focus on internal branding in metro trains. Unlike other brands which lay equal emphasis on the outdoor train wrap that appears on the doors of the metro trains, this one has tried to be a differentiator by being the attention seeker only inside the compartments. The reason is that according to a study done by FreeCharge, it was found that commuters spend 80 per cent of their time inside the metro compartment and the remaining 20 per cent at the metro station platforms. Hence, it makes sense to advertise at the direct point of contact rather than elsewhere.

Talking about choosing this particular metro line, Ashish Virmani, marketing head, FreeCharge, notes that the brand enjoys three-fold advantages by advertising on the Versova-Ghatkopar metro line. Firstly, the number of daily commuters via Mumbai Metro is the highest on this route; hence, it will certainly ensure high brand visibility for them. Secondly, compared to all other media mix, outdoor advertising has the least spillover rate. For instance, unlike a radio or a TV channel, when one may choose to either turn off or switch over to some other channel once some ad starts playing, a passenger boarding the metro does not have the choice to turn it off or move away in case of a train wrap or internal branding in metro compartments. Lastly, getting a recharge for a metro card done through FreeCharge is an option that lies closest to the point of transaction.

Previously, the brand took to outdoor advertising at bus shelters near malls and colleges in metro cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai. But, this is the first-ever metro train-based outdoor advertising being undertaken.

Speaking about the major marketing challenges faced by FreeCharge, Virmani is of the view that 'behaviour change' remains the most prominent challenge for them as only one per cent of the metro commuters recharge their cards online while the rest prefer paying cash over the counter, to effect the same. Hence, this is an issue which the current campaign aspires to overcome. The brand has therefore, hiked its ad spends by 70-80 per cent compared to its previous ad campaigns.