In current scenario, we are undertaking a digital-led approach: Pallavi Chopra, redBus
Founded in 2006, redBus is a strong example of ‘Make in India’, which has today become the world’s largest online bus ticketing platform. After having solved complex problems of bus customers in India, redBus also launched operations in Singapore and Malaysia in 2015 and acquired a majority stake in Peru-based bus ticketing platform Busportal (now redBus.Pe) in the subsequent year. With this acquisition, redBus successfully launched operations in Latin America markets, Peru and shortly thereafter, Colombia.
According to the company, redBus has globally sold more than 180 million bus tickets till date and has a customer base of around 20 million users. redBus is now part of the MakeMyTrip group, which is the largest travel aggregator in India with offerings across categories such as Flights, Hotels, Holiday Packages, etc.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the operations and there has been a deep fear among passengers to travel in public transport. However, with gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions, people have now slowly started to travel by both air and road. To make travelling safe and reassuring, redBus has implemented some strict safety measures with their operators to ensure complete safety of the passengers. The company wanted to reassure bus travellers that they can still move forward towards fulfilling their dreams during these tough times, as redBus strives to ensure their safety during the journey with its Safety+ programme campaign.
To generate awareness about and to educate the travellers about the safety measures that the company has taken, a new television commercial explaining the safety measures has been rolled out. In conversation with Adgully, Pallavi Chopra, Head of Marketing and Brand communication, redBus, shares details about the latest campaign, operating amid COVID-19 conditions and more.
What was your purpose for the safety film? What triggered you to create this communication and how it is going to benefit redBus when the fear of travelling is still there in people’s mind?
In the ad film, we are urging or inspiring people to follow their dreams and undertake the necessary travel required to pursue those, while we take care of the safety aspect. We realised that there are millions of people out there waiting to travel in order to pursue various life goals, including career, but were sceptical owing to the safety of travel in the present scenario. As a brand that’s all about enabling journeys and connections, we wanted to reassure bus travellers that they can still move forward towards fulfilling their dreams during these tough times, as redBus strives to ensure their safety during the journey with its Safety+ programme. Our intention is to express solidarity with bus travellers on safety, inspire people to persevere in their endeavours and restore the optimism for bus travel as the nation traverses its path to normalcy.
What was the brief given to the agency for this TV campaign? How did you arrive on the core insight and how did your agency go about expressing it creatively? And how was the film executed during the lockdown?
The nationwide lockdown has not only brought lives, but also dreams and aspirations for the future to a grinding halt. Being the custodian of the online bus ticketing category, we felt it imperative to comfort customers by making travel safe in these uncertain times. Hence, we had briefed the agency to envisage a subject or scenario that resonated with households across the country in order to shape the campaign, which would connect at a deeper emotional level.
To express this creatively, we, along with our agency decided to use a strong and emotional dynamic between a protective father and his ambitious young daughter, to tell a story that we felt every Indian family contemplating travel during these times could connect to.
Executing a film remotely during the pandemic comes with its fair share of challenges. However, with the help of technology and a highly collaborative process involving client, agency and production house, we were able to ensure that the execution of the film was just as effective as it would have been prior to the pandemic.
All pre-production communication between key stakeholders took place on video call. Once the cast and crew was selected, all necessary precautions like thermal screening of crew, wearing of masks, sanitisation of surfaces at the shoot location and social distancing were taken to ensure safety on the set. All stakeholders were also together on video call during the shoot to ensure swift feedback between takes.
Keeping this safety program in mind, on which routes are the buses plying? Are you planning a phased approach for the moment or will you extend it to more routes by following all safety procedures?
States in India are at varying phases of the pandemic and have implemented restrictions on intercity transport depending on the situation on the ground. The Safety+ program covers most of the current operational routes and the routes which will open up in the future.
For the campaign execution, we are planning a phased approach for our digital campaign, targeting those regions that have permitted bus operations first, followed by the rest.
Are you planning to use some of the traditional medium apart from the TV campaign as you need to be visible locally?
Given the present scenario, we concluded that digital is the best medium to reach our audience in the remotest parts of the country, hence we are undertaking a digital-led approach, with a focus on social media with platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, apart from e-mailers and push notifications to our customer base. As and when various states open up for intercity transport, we will evaluate TV and other media.
With digital acceleration happening at a rapid pace, are you going to focus a lot on digital? Have you planned any overall media strategy?
Certainly, as stated earlier, digital will be the way forward given the present scenario as it offers us enough flexibility in terms of targeting the right audience at the right time. With the states opening up in a staggered manner, we will take a planned approach to marketing.
How has the initial response for the campaign been? Have you seen any traction and have the bookings gone up?
It would be too early to comment on the results as it has just been a few days since the launch. However, we have already seen the film being received well across the board.