Advertising takes a Spiritual TurnFebruary 21st, 2012 | Posted by in Articles and Opinions
Pandharpur, located on the banks of the Bhima River, is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Maharashtra and features the renowned Lord Vitthal Temple. Vithoba, Pandurang and Pandharinath, as he is known among his ardent devotees, are the alternative names of Lord Vitthal, considered an incarnation of Vishnu in Hinduism. Every year, thousands undertake a 220 km-walk from Alandi Dehu to Pandharpur to do a ‘darshan’ of Vithoba and Rukmini, his consort.
The holy site hosts four annual pilgrimages or ‘yatras’ of Hindu devotees; among them, the pilgrimage in the month of Ashad in the Hindu calendar (Aashadhi Ekadashi), or the months of June-July as per the Gregorian calendar, attracts the highest number of pilgrims. The number hovers around 20 to 22 lakh devotees, belonging to a variety of castes and creeds. The pilgrimage in the Hindu month of Kārtik or during the October-November period attracts the next highest number of pilgrims. Since devotees across states like Maharashtra and Karnataka resolve to visit Pandharpur at least once annually, the festivities become an apt platform for advertising directly to masses that belong to all the strata of society, particularly those from non-metro regions. Resolving the problematic issue of bringing brands through advertising to the non-metro and media-oblivious masses, Vritti i-Media has successfully created its niche in all major Pandharpur events over the last three years. By doing this, they have been able to introduce MNC brands and pan-India products and services to micro-segments. With a relevant application of information technology and tie-ups with the ‘Devasasthan Samiti,’ as well as the Police and District administrations, Vritti i-Media has been able to successfully pull off this breakthrough advertising feat.
In order to achieve this never-before milestone for non-metro advertising, Vritti i-Media relied on its innovative ad-platforms comprising audio advertisements at MSRTC bus-stands across Maharashtra; audio-video ads at expressway- and highway-hotels; Gantries; T-shirts; SMS campaigns; outdoor media services like hoardings, pole-kiosks and bus panels, as well as event and conference management. In order to draw audience attention, Vritti made announcements for bus departures, bus numbers and platform displays merge with its special audio ad announcements. In a similar way, it also disseminated crucial information like police instructions regarding traffic directions as well as ‘devsthan’ instructions for ‘darshan’ arrangements. Provisions for missing-persons’ display were also made. Maps of Pandharpur were distributed to ease the movement of devotees, while direction boards were also put up. Finally, a SMS system for rapid communication within groups was put in place. It took huge investment and efforts for Vritti i-Media to successfully set up this entire system at two locations spread across 35 acre. Enabling IT solutions has been a tough task.
On a regular pilgrimage day, an average of 5,000 devotees visits Pandharpur. Considering that 60% visitors are middle-aged persons and 25% are students or young professionals, it makes ample sense for brands, products and services to gain visibility among these masses. These demographics are highly receptive to advertising and can dictate purchasing choices. By using a variety of attractive and eye-grabbing advertising and promotional media, such as hoardings, events, kiosks, public announcement systems, LCD displays, among others, the company has etched its forte in bridging the communication gap between corporate India and India’s hinterlands through its efforts at Pandharpur.