Ola launches in London; advertises in India?

Ola has just launched in London. The news was out in the newspapers yesterday. And today, Ola has a splashy front-page ad proclaiming the same across 3 editions of The Times of India and 2 editions of Hindustan Times.

We may have seen a bigger media spend for this in Ola’s heydays, but I think the purse-strings are tighter, in these days of moving closer to profitability as a metric.

The question though is this: what purpose does this ad, about Ola launching in London, serve in Bengaluru, Mumbai and New Delhi?

Ola did release a 4-page spread in London’s Evening Standard yesterday (February 10th). That made perfect sense because it introduces the brand and explains some of the beneficial features of the service to the intended target audience.

But, does a ‘Made in India. Made by a billion Indians’ help Ola in any tangible way, as an advertisement spend in India? I totally get the pride angle; it IS a big deal. And it is worth crowing about. But this crowing was usually reserved for earned media‚Ķ that is, PR (and owned media – that is, Ola’s own social media handles). You convince journalists that this is worth crowing about and earn that attention from them since there is no direct correlation with business in India.

Does the pride force you to consider Ola instead of Uber this morning? I do not think so, at least personally. I continue to opt for the service that I think is beneficial to me, in my city (which is usually Uber, as a first choice; and Ola as a back-up option). I’m not sure if someone would actively switch to Ola because of this ad.

Would it help send a sign about Ola as a company to join (employer of choice)? Perhaps, but even then, such a spend seems a tad too high for a quasi-recruitment advertisement.

How do you think this ad spend help Ola in India beyond intangibles like goodwill and pride?

UPDATE: I got quite a few opinions on the ‘why’ on Twitter and LinkedIn. Much of it included things like ‘creating perceptions before a potential IPO’, ‘to let well-traveled Indians know that when they travel to London next time’ and ‘letting Indians who have relatives in London to inform them’! All 3 do not justify a front-page ad campaign, in my view.

Also, this Googly from Ola – they have released this ad in Hindi in multiple editions of Dhainik Bhaskar!

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