From sports tourneys, award events and infrastructure projects, corporate branding is now also visible on metro trains — the Gurgaon Rapid Metro (RMGL) to begin with, and soon, the Mumbai Metro as well.
With stations named after them and even painted in their brand colours, corporates couldn’t have it better, while the tie-ups are providing new fillip to the economics of the metro. Figure this: the RMGL at present is reportedly generating 60-70% of its revenue from advertising and branding alone!
The Rapid Metro, the country’s first privately-funded metro rail system, has so far roped in four big corporate brands — Micromax, Vodafone, IndusInd Bank and Airtel — as title sponsors for four of its six stations. So you have Vodafone Belvedere Towers, IndusInd Bank Cyber City, Micromax Moulsari Avenue and Airtel Phase 3 stations.
As per the agreement, each sponsor is getting commercial and advertising space inside stations, besides naming rights, while RMGL gets R1.5-5 crore per year from each of them. For a high-profile station such as IndusInd Bank Cyber City, which is bang in the middle of Gurgaon’s corporate hub, the Mumbai-based bank is paying R4-5 crore per year for five years to RMGL.
The sponsor also gets 50% of the commercial space inside the station and 60-70% of the advertising space both outside as well as inside the station for five years. For instance, at Vodafone Belvedere Towers, the telecom service provider — apart from owning a store — has installed kiosks for consumers inside the station.
“The rest of the inventory resides with RMGL and is being sold to other brands. However, we are very clear that the exclusivity of the deal is maintained. We do not allow competitor brands to buy the remaining space. For example, at the Micromax Moulsari Avenue station, we do not allow brands like Samsung or Nokia to either open a counter or advertise,” says Sanjiv Rai, managing director and chief executive officer, RMGL.
Naming rights of the stations is only one part of the big strategy, as RMGL is also selling exclusive branding rights for its trains for six months to three years. Delhi-based real estate player 3C is one of the advertisers to have bagged branding rights for one of the trains for three years, while automotive company Skoda and real estate company Oh! My God have signed branding deals for a train each for six months. In case of such branding deals, an advertiser pays R20-30 lakh per month. Rai says in case of branding rights for trains, an advertiser can use the space inside the train, including the digital screens, besides wrapping its exteriors.
RMGL is already the first transit system in the country to offer wi-fi services to commuters in all its trains, besides four stations, through its tie-up with Sistema Shyam Teleservices, which operates under the MTS brand name. A study undertaken by AZ Research highlighted that more than 95% commuters wanted Internet access. The percentage was highest among travellers in the 15-35 years’ age group, a target group handset maker Micromax is also focusing on. “Thousands of commuters travel every day to Gurgaon and this partnership gives us a great avenue to connect with our consumers,” says Shubhodip Pal, chief marketing officer, Micromax.
Therefore, each brand is utilising the space inside the station in its own style. “Apart from branding the station, we have set up certain interactive 3D elements at the platform,” says Mohit Ganju, chief marketing officer, IndusInd Bank. “For example, six cylinders with numbers inscribed on them have been placed at the station for commuters to pick their lucky numbers. This promotes the new proposition by the bank, as per which a consumer can select his own account number,” he adds.
Times OOH, the out-of-home subsidiary of Bennett, Coleman & Co, has won the advertising rights of Mumbai Metro for 15 years, and is also selling naming and advertising rights for its 12 stations.