Balancing Advertising with Responsibility
Located on the banks of the BhimaRiver, the Lord Vitthal Temple is a foremost pilgrimage destination at Pandharpur, Maharashtra.
It hosts thousands of devotees by way of four annual pilgrimages or yatras each year. The months of June-July witnesses hordes of pilgrims undertaking a 220 km-walk from Alandi Dehu to Pandharpur for a glimpse or darshan of Vithoba and his consort, Rukmini. With around 22–25 lakh devotees in Maharashtra and Karnataka congregating here every year, the Pandharpur Yatra is an opportune platform to connect with masses that reside in media-dark regions of the two states.
The Relevance of the Effort
Vritti i-Media has created an indispensable place for itself in the Pandharpur events by providing public utility services skilfully blended with rural advertising for four years running. Through this effort, Vritti i-Media has been able to effectively introduce numerous MNC brands as well as pan-India products and services to rural target groups they could barely have reached otherwise. By infusing a fair amount of technology in its event management and brand promotion initiatives, as well as by forging a multitude of support alliances with local samitis, the Police and district administrations, Vritti i-Media has proficiently rendered this landmark advertising achievement.
Infusing Advertising Interests into Public Utility Services
However, creating such a milestone advertising opportunity was no cakewalk. Vritti i-Media had to resort to novel and innovative advertising platforms such as advertisements at MSRTC bus-stands across Maharashtra
t-shirts, information booklets; as well as display of a variety of OOH media including instruction and direction boards; station name boards; gantries; special promotional stalls; product sample distribution; banners and cut-outs; in addition to event and conference management. For instance, in order to play its part in crowd management, which was a focal issue for the Pandharpur Nagar Parishad, Vritti i-Media put up boards across town directing safety and security, while providing important instructions to pilgrims. The highlight of Vritti i-Media’s effort was that each media helped guide pilgrims to their destinations safety, while leveraging the interests of advertisers. Advertising was incorporated through the following public utility platforms.
With respect to maintaining the security of devotees, Vritti i-Media lent a hand to the Solapur Gramin Police Dal in an effort to disseminate their messages through boards at all Police Help, help center booths displaying particulars pertaining to missing or searched persons.
- To ensure a smooth march to the mandir, Vritti i-Media put up direction boards with important public messages. It has also issued ID-cards and t-shirts to Mandir Samitee volunteers.
- Capitalising on the opportunities provided by ST bus-stands, Vritti i-Media worked on beautifying the make-shift bus-stand at Chandrbhaga Nagar. Besides this, the company issued live audio announcements and pocket booklets with important phone numbers and other information to lakhs of devotees at all bus-stations.
It is estimated that about 5,000 devotees visit Pandharpur on an average pilgrimage day, of which approximately 60% visitors are middle-aged persons, while 25% are slated to be students or young professionals. Although these demographic groups are empowered consumers and make opinionated purchase decisions, they are difficult to reach. However, they are very receptive to relevant advertising. Through its endeavours at Pandharpur,
Vritti i-Media has effectively fixed the communication lacuna that has hitherto existed in these areas to ease the advertising challenges faced by large pan-India brands.