The Indian Railways’ vinyl-wrap advertising plan for Mumbai-based trains has attracted interest from agencies such as Times OOH, Media on Track, TDI International India (P) Ltd and JCDecaux India, among others.
According to officials in the ministry of railways, who spoke requesting anonymity, these agencies have come in at the pre-bidding stage, wherein prospective bidders clarify their concerns, if any.
“Pre-bidding consultation for the vinyl-wrap tender of Mumbai-based trains was held on Tuesday (23 August). They have some demands. We are looking into it,” said a railway ministry official requesting anonymity.
The railways is trying to shore up its non-fare revenue through advertising. It is working to advertise on a high-tech centralised network of 100,000 screens across 2,175 stations by 31 March next year. In addition, it also aims to call for tenders on a zone-wise basis for outdoor advertisements across road-over-bridges, road-under-bridges and level crossings.
This comes at a time when the national carrier is under financial stress and is looking to monetise all available resources.
“They (bidders) are asking for a contract period of 10 years instead of seven years. This contract is going to be awarded train-wise. By mid-September, we should have the first rake ready and we are expecting revenue of around Rs.200-300 crore,” said the official quoted above.
A rake is a set of railway coaches coupled together.
Queries emailed to the spokesperson of the ministry of railways on 24 August, to JCDecaux India and TDI International India on 25 August, and Times OOH on 26 August remained unanswered.
An official spokesperson for Media on Track said that the agency keeps taking projects for railway advertising.
It was earlier reported that vinyl advertising plan may face hurdles given the lack of dedicated rakes.
According to a second official from the ministry of railways, who also requested anonymity, the national carrier has decided to allot fixed rakes to advertisers in order to tackle the challenge.
“We have coupled trains whose rakes are used interchangeably. So, for example, if Paschim Express goes from Delhi to Mumbai and then the same rake goes from Mumbai to Nagpur and then it comes back from Nagpur to Delhi, all these three trains have to be given together to one advertiser. That’s how these issues will get resolved,” the official explained.
According to experts, vinyl advertising has a potential of garnering more revenue than the projected estimates.
“Wrap advertising is the most fantastic idea that railways has come up with. I think Rs.500 crore would be a base price as I believe the prices would go up much higher. I would actually dump the outdoor budget for vinyl-wrap advertising. It’s far more conversational, it travels and it’s not really static at one place and the kind stuff that can be done in that is a challenge in itself,” said Naresh Gupta, chief strategy officer and managing partner at Bang in the Middle, a creative agency.
Gupta added that it is really a buzz-worthy idea.
The national carrier plans to increase its non-fare revenue from the current 5% to 10-20%, as is a norm for many railway systems across the world.