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Now, TV ads in Mumbai's BEST buses

Govindkrishna Seshan  |  Mumbai 

It's one of the most basic mantras of marketing: go where your customer is. Advertisers in Mumbai are taking a step forward by joining their customers on journey.
They are now advertising on closed-circuit televisions, installed in public buses operated by Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST).
Major advertisers, including Hindustan Unilever, Paras Pharma, Pidilite Industries, Esselworld, Playwin Lotteries and Tata Sky have started relaying commercials in the BEST buses.
The advertisers need to shell out just Rs 9,300 for one 10-second advertising slot in all the 3,100 buses that will soon be fitted with television screens. The cost per commercial per bus becomes a paltry Rs 3 (which is lower than the minimum fee of Rs 4 on BEST). To put this in context, a 10-second slot on a popular TV programme would cost between Rs 75,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh.
What started as a security initiative with close-circuit cameras to record passengers and save the images in a blackbox below the driver's seat has now become a revenue initiative with media company Emnet Samsara Media installing TV screens along with the cameras.
At present, Emnet, which has a ten-year contract with BEST to install and maintain close-circuit television cameras in its entire fleet, has rolled out the initiative on 100 buses.
In nine months the company plans to install screens in the entire BEST fleet, barring the double-deckers. BEST's fleet of 3,500 buses carry close to 4.8 million passengers every day.
Suyash Chaini, managing director, Emnet Samsara said, "The medium is exciting for advertisers, simply because they have an assured audience. Passengers cannot switch channels and so the probability of their watching the advertisement is higher."
"A single bus carries 1,500 passengers a day and at Rs 3 a commercial, we are sure that advertisers will make a beeline for it," he added.
Uttam Khobragade, general manager, BEST, says the main benefit for the transport service provider is security. "We have tied up with Emnet Samsara to increase security in our buses. Apart from installing and maintaining the cameras and screens the company will also give us Rs 1 crore each year," he added.
To recover its costs, Emnet is selling ten-second advertising slots to advertisers. At the moment the advertisements being aired include Fevicol, Fair and Lovely, Itchguard and Moov. The company plans to air around 12 minutes of advertising every hour, between 7 am and 10 pm daily.
Fevicol, for instance, is currently airing 15 spots a day on 100 buses at a price of just Rs 90 per bus. "It is a new and innovative medium so we are trying to understand how effective it is by advertising and gathering feedback," said B O Mehta, president, sales and marketing, Pidilite.

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First Published: Sat, August 25 2007. 00:00 IST