A Train to the Future

DQI Bureau
New Update

It was a joyride for passengers traveling to Delhi in Indias premier

Rajdhani Express from Bangalore. Instead of the Rajdhanis signature scarlet red

and custard yellow color, it was completely enveloped with an advertisement of

the countrys leading telecom giant, Airtel. And once inside the train, there

were more pleasantries waiting to be exchanged. Working behind the fanfare and

media attention, however, was the economics of change, having a cognizable,

threefold impactstate-of-the-art services and facilities for onboard

passengers, a conspicuous presence for advertisers and an image makeover for the

Indian Railways. While the advertiser, passenger, and the worlds largest

railway network might be the obvious stakeholders and beneficiaries of this

unique and first of its kind venture, the involvement of a printing company, HP,

to take on the mammoth task of wrapping the 19-coach train with the ad was as



Idea Behind It

The move to change the look and feel of the Bangalore Rajdhani, and

subsequently three other Rajdhani trains, came not only to provide advertising

rights on the train and earn revenue but to render the best in-coach service and

facilities seen till date on any of the regular route trains. In this case, in

return of advertising rights, both external and internal, the train has been

upgraded completely with a new kitchen, high-quality flooring, cleaner toilets,

and 24-hr house-keeping services. Executed on a public-private partnership, the

model achieves the ultimate goal of providing customers with the best of


However, the aspect that caught the attention of passengers and passersby

immediately was the Airtel Barriers Break When People Talk ad that covered the

length of the train, including the engine. The ad, seen across cities, with two

boys playing football on the border, covered the windows and doors of the train

as well as blanketing its entire surface. Adding to the already tough task of

wrapping the expanse of the train was the fact that the coaches will tear

through high winds and extreme heat, not to mention rains. A strong, all-weather

material and high printing quality became essential in order to have the desired

impact on the campaign, and sustain it. The onus went to HP, a frontrunner in

the printing business. HP took the responsibility of executing the whole

printing and application process of the ad. HP entered the large printing format

space some three years ago and since then, through a series of acquisitions, has

worked its way up the ladder.


The USP of this is that first, it is a new and interesting concept, and

second, it is a mobile billboard, a billboard that can travel. A train can catch

the attention of those at stations, and it is rare to see an empty station. We

have identified some strategic routes on which this concept can work best, says

Sandeep Chawla, chairman and managing director, Peacock Media, the company that

had proposed the idea to the Indian Railways and undertook the project.

Printing Prospects

Fleet ads, as they are popularly called, are undeniably the best eyeball

catchers and present advertisers a great prospect to market their product. For

products and brands, both new and established, the eagerness to spend big bucks

on fleet advertisements is spelling more business for the thriving printing

market in India. However, with fleet advertising, which may include wrapping

large transit vehicles with all-weather, computerized polyvinyl, a more

professional and skilled approach is required, not to mention a more powerful

machine and different material. This is where offset printing takes a beating

and digital printers come into play.

HPs Scitex TJ8500 large format

printer used for the train wrap

Fleet graphics and wrap-arounds spell big opportunity in the Graphic Arts

space. It has found increased acceptance across the world and is steadily making

inroads in India. More and more marketers, advertisers and media buyers are

looking at this new media to propagate the message of their brand. This

initiative has given a new medium in out-of-home to advertisers to communicate

with consumers. The first ever train wrap in the country in the form of Hazrat

Nizamuddin-Bengaluru Rajdhani Express is a testimonial to the birth of a new

media in the country, says Paresh Shetty, Graphics and Imaging Manager, Hewlett

Packard India Sales.

Shetty also goes on to explain that according to a recent study by PIRA,

Indias digital printing industry is growing at 73%, and 86% of the pages

printed today are in the graphics arts space. However, only 6% are printed

digitally, which for a company like HP means huge business opportunities.

Driven by the boom in the advertising market, the graphics ads space is

riveting for the leaders in the printing business. It started in 1993 when a

company called SuperGraphics wrapped a bus in computer-generated vinyl. The

Crystal Pepsi became the first digitally printed wrap advertising. Subsequently

a coach of the Amtrek was wrapped for Holiday Inn, and Apple iPods earliest ads

where building wraps. World across, however, bus wraps are the most popular,

being used to promote healthcare, sports teams, TV shows and even office



Ignited India

In India, there have been several instances in the recent past where the

public transport system alone has been poised to become a revenue booster for

the government. In August 2007, Assocham (Associated Chambers of Commerce and

Industry) along with the Delhi Transport Corporation proposed to earn Rs 100

crore by way of advertising on public buses plying both within the state and

inter-state. Some 800 well-maintained buses had to be identified out of the

fleet of 3,500 DTC buses, and keeping in mind the fact that these buses travel

to states which are hubs for the services and manufacturing industry, and earn

huge amount for the country. Another recent example is the Delhi Metro. However,

while these were all primarily for internal display ads, the Haryana state buses

plying from Delhi to Gurgaon have been completely wrapped with an ad of HUDA (Haryana

Urban Development Authority). With the states like Delhi, Karnataka, and

Maharashtra set to overhaul their public transportation systems by means of

state-of-the-art buses, metro rails and sky buses, the scope for wrap

advertising, and in turn the printing market, specifically in the graphics ads

space and, large format printing, will see visible growth.

The prospects dont stop at that, buildings and aircrafts are likely to be

the next target for advertisers when it comes to wrap ads. While eventually

these is brand recognition, and taking the credit for the success of the

campaign would be the advertising company, the almost unsung hero in the eyes of

the public, responsible for ensuring good printing quality, a wear and tear

resistant printing material, and manually sticking the wrap ad on the designated

mode of structure/vehicle, is the printing partner. But they are not

complaining. Monetizing on the growth of wrap advertising is where they are not

taking a backseat.

The formerly untouched wrap advertising market, especially in the Indian

Railways, has been ignited for with the Bangalore Rajdhani. As three other

Rajdhani trains are being readied to be rolled with wrap ads in other routes, it

wont be too long that this trend extends to trains other than the Rajdhani or

even the Delhi Metro. In fact, dont be surprised if you spot the Indian

Railways mascot, Golu, posted on the Rail Bhawan building.


Shikha Das