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What's inside Oyo's 'Raho Mast' campaign?

Oyo's campaign has been conceptualised and conceived in-house under the charge of Mayur Hola, creative head, India, and SE Asia, for the company. The three films shot by Chrome Pictures show different use-case scenarios.

, ETBrandEquity|
Updated: Dec 14, 2019, 10.29 AM IST
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Aditya Ghosh, CEO, India & South Asia, Oyo differs and says, “Any new product or service that approaches an old business in a different or innovative manner is bound to upset legacy businesses with vested interests.”
The SoftBank-backed hotel operator, Oyo goes around the world branding or rebranding hotels and bringing them into a fast-expanding chain of properties. Today the 6 year old Indian startup, with 18,000 hotels in India alone, is the world’s No. 2 hotel operator by room count, and, according to reports, is poised to take the top spot, currently occupied by Marriott International Inc., early next year.

That makes the timing of Oyo's first-ever big brand campaign all the more important as it cements its position on the big stage. But the Oyo brand, like most brands today, has also taken a bit of a battering in social spheres. Where disgruntled customers air their seemingly endless list of grievances - from peeling paint and dirty rooms to unsafe hotel properties.

Even as the company continues to go deeper into markets like China, the UK and the US, gaining the customers’ trust appears to be an uphill task in this age where there’s no dearth of choices for people.

The company recently launched its first full-blown position defining brand campaign, nearly six years after its inception. In an exclusive chat with Brand Equity, Gaurav Ajmera, COO, Oyo Hotels & Homes, India & South Asia, says, “The ‘Raho Mast’ positioning is part of the same…to let India know that no matter who you are, where you are, whatever your budget, when you spot that big red Oyo sign on a hotel, an app or a website, you are assured a quality experience.”

Experiences are a mixed bag though. While customers are quick to acknowledge quality products and services, they go to greater lengths to amplify bad experiences. Not too long ago, one customer even created a site called “oyo-ruined-my-anniversary.com” to document his experience with the booking site over a period of many days.

A senior marketer on the condition of anonymity tells BE that the objective of Oyo's recent campaign is "salience and taking the attention away from all the negative publicity they are getting for service quality.”

However, Aditya Ghosh, CEO, India & South Asia, Oyo differs and says, “Any new product or service that approaches an old business in a different or innovative manner is bound to upset legacy businesses with vested interests.”

Says Ajmera, “Oyo hopes to eliminate the price disparity that we have come to expect from the interference of touts and ensures that safe and secure, comfortable hospitality options are available to everyone, everywhere at the tap of a button.”

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Oyo's campaign has been conceptualised and conceived in-house under the charge of Mayur Hola, creative head, India, and SE Asia, for the company. The three films shot by Chrome Pictures show different use-case scenarios. A family navigating its way around stereotypical touts outside a railway station. A frequent business traveller struggling to find his perfect 'palace' on budget. A couple finding a place away from all the bird-gawking to steal some private moments. In addition to the TVCs, the brand is also deploying new-age innovations: TikTok specific influencers and ideas, Sharechat filters, along with a separate set of executions for social - all coming together to amplify the 'Raho Mast' positioning, says Hola.

Divyraj Singh Karansar, owner of a standalone property in Jaipur’s Hotel Umaid Vilas, says the campaign looks real and something that every traveller can connect to. However, it’s unlikely to convert the mindset of the middle class or higher to switch to Oyo rooms, he feels.

Ashish Khazanchi, managing partner, Enormous finds Oyo’s campaign attention grabbing in a sector (travel) which is probably one of the few that's relatively unfazed by the slowdown. At this juncture, if a value brand has to grow in such a scenario, it has to speak to the recruitment audiences and reduce their travel anxiety, in his view.

A former marketing head at a competing brand found the creative story-telling rooted in reality but also kind of stale, given that it's a story line many brands have explored before, including the memorable MakeMyTrip campaign featuring actors Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt. “Very different execution but very similar situations (except the couples),” he felt.

A filing with India's Ministry of Corporate Affairs recently revealed that the fast expanding Oyo Rooms is not expected to be profitable until 2022. This is being largely attributed to the large-scale expansion of the brand in markets like China, the United States and the United Kingdom, and in parts of South-East Asia. While the company keeps adding keys (rooms) to the portfolio, the big task going forward would be to create a standardised product and consistent levels of service. So, no more honeymoons are ruined.

Inside Oyo’s in-house branding department
“Where else will a brand person have an input on a hotel reception design, write a social media post, create a new website and launch a full-scale multimedia campaign, all in a day's work?” says Mayur Hola while describing an average day as the head of creative, India, and SE Asia at Oyo. Hola shares with Brand Equity what makes the in-house team click.

“I wouldn't call ourselves an in-house branding department. We are the Brand & Design team. While a lot of organizations have created in-house creative structures, they become extensions to marketing teams. At Oyo, the Brand & Design team is a business function that works alongside every other business function, right from the marketing operations team to revenue and tech to key business leads. We provide design, content and creative communication solutions and take ownership of Oyo’s positioning as a brand. The team comprises of interior designers, architects, strategists, writers and experts on consumer insights. We have in house capabilities to shoot and edit, code our own mailers, design apps, websites and curate content across all media platforms. We also have a production studio and workflow + finance controller. And we work with various agencies as an extension of our creative team. I can't think of another in-house team around the world that has the depth and width of capabilities and the responsibility that the Oyo Brand & Design team has.

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