India's Commuters Face Philip K Dick's 'Sales Pitch' Future

In Philip K. Dick's classic 1954 short story Sales Pitch, commuters face a grim reality - there is no escape from advertising:

Commute ships roared on all sides, as Ed Morris made his way wearliy home to Earth at the end of a long hard day at the office. The Ganymede-Terra lanes were choked with exhausted, grim-faced businessmen; Jupiter was in opposition to Earth and the trip was a good two hours. Every few million miles the great flow slowed to a grinding, agonized halt; signal-lights flashed as streams from Mars and Saturn fed into the main traffic-arteries... a visual ad was forming; he winced, closed his eyes, but it did no good.

"Men!" an unctuous voice thundered on all sides of him. "Banish internally-caused obnoxious odors forever. Removal by modern painless methods of the gastrointestinal tract and substitution system will relieve you of the most acute cause of social rejection..."

All around him the vague half-defined echoes of ads glittered and gibbered, like ghosts of distant video-stations. Ads waited on all sides; he steered a careful course, dexterity born of animal desperation, but not all could be avoided.

Today, India's commuters face the same grim reality whether they take trains or buses.

(Advertising grab handles in commuter trains in India)

After successfully launching the Smile TV network in western route of local trains in the financial capital, OOH media company Hype Integracomm has inked another deal with Railways in the same route to put up designer grab handles in Mumbai’s trains.

Hype has won a five year contract to put up these handles in the trains run on the western route (WR). While exploring a very innovative advertising medium, this will also bring in hefty revenues for the railways.

To start with, Hype installed the handles in three WR trains, but the good response from advertisers and commuters has egged it on to install these in all the trains of WR.

Each compartment of the trains will have about 125 handles, which is 40 handles more than the current number of metal and wood handles.

Jignesh Sharma, executive director, Hype Integracomm, tells afaqs!, “The attractive ad space of each of these designer handles is 7x 3.5 inches on both sides... “Railways are the lifeline of this city. About 7.77 million passengers travel daily by train and each train carries about 75,000 passengers daily. The journey time generally varies between 20-100 minutes. Advertisers will be able to reach these consumers for the average journey time. Grab handles is the medium that is closest to the eyeballs and offers a very high brand recall value. Thus it’s a win-win for everybody.”

No, not for everybody.

At least it's safe to take the bus, no oddly intrusive advertising there - or not.

(Seat Back advertisements on India's commuter buses)

Each seat’s back is used as an ad medium where vinyls can be stuck. The size of each ad is 27 cm wide at the top and 30 cm at the bottom; and the height is 31 cm...

“This medium is very communicative and can describe the product in depth,” [Shonak Gholkar, CEO, Tinta Media Creations] says. “Advertisers are impressed by this medium that has a personalised impact on the branding, as the matter is very close to a person sitting on the bus seat.”

As far as reach goes, BEST, on its 3,700 buses, transports about 4.8 million passengers on an average weekday. The average travel distance traveled by an individual on BEST buses is seven km everyday. With a traveling time of four minutes per km, each individual spends approximately 28 minutes on a BEST bus per day, thus giving an advertiser value for his money spent.

There is one bright spot - at least they don't have to commute from Ganymede.

Via Grab handles in Mumbai local trains and and BEST buses lend seat backs to brands.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/1/2014)

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