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Your ad is on auto-pilot

Autorickshaws are now becoming a tool for promoting Internet sites like gogurgaon.com, reports Ripu Daman Singh.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2006 19:53 IST

If such sites as mouthshut.com, mapmyindia.com and gogurgaon.com, ring a bell, chances are, you have seen them painted behind auto rickshaws.
From cheesy slogans ("No life without wife") to becoming a tool for promoting Internet sites, the humble three-wheeler autorickshaw has come a long way.

"We have painted over 7,000 autos in Delhi and the response has been tremendous," said Faisal Farooqui, CEO of  mouthshut.com, a website launched in 2000 where consumers review various products and services.

"There is a lot of recall and intrigue value attached to something that is screaming in your face in a traffic jam," added Farooqui, who was the first to hit upon the idea of autorickshaw mobile advertising.

Aditya Malik of gogurgaon.com, said his site has been registering more hits ever since it began painting the URL behind 500 autos some four months ago. What's more important, however, is the brand recognition that his site gets.

The cherry on the icing? The medium costs peanuts, especially when compared to advertising on billboards.

While Farooqui refused to comment on how much he spends on each auto he advertises on, auto drivers said they get Rs 50. Gogurgaon.com has struck an even cheaper deal: no cash, only cigarettes and gifts with a value of less Rs 20 per auto, said Malik.

Unlike stickers that can be ripped off, painted ads have an advantage of being more difficult to wash off. Gogurgaon.com, however, takes the precaution of using unwashable paint.

It makes sense too that many of the sites are local. "Our website is for anyone who gets lost on the road and wants directions to reach his destination. It is for both mobile and internet users," said Rakesh Verma of mapmyindia.com.

But chances that the ad blitz will extend beyond websites are slim. "There has to be some sort of product association with the medium of advertising," said Piyush Pandey, executive chairman of Ogilvy & Mather. The painted messages serve merely as a 'reminder medium' he said.

With 50,000 autos on the streets of Delhi, there is certainly room for growth.
"If auto unions get organised, it has potential. The autos could raise monthly rentals instead of a one-time payment," said Prahlad Kakkar, chief executive officer of Genesis. Until that happens, nobody is complaining. Certainly not the dotcoms.