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Thursday, April 12

Let me be a train. No logo please!

I am sure many of you must have read about the decision by South Western Railways to auction the rights to have a train named after brands!! So guys, brace yourself for Kurkure Mail, Pepsi Express, LG Rajdhani, Ujala Local and more...

The initiative, called Brand Train, basically entails the use of a train as an advertising space, where the brand name would feature in all of that particular train’s announcements, reserved tickets, reservation charts and so on. As of now the deal is limited to certain summer specials, but if successful the experiment could be enlarged to embrace more trains.

In fact there was a debate in the TOI on this...It's one of those stupid marketing ideas that have no concern for environment sensitivity. Yes, It may earn the railways some money but at the immense cost of 'aesthetic, visual and cultural pollution'.

1. Argues an emotionally charged Kautilya Kumar( don't know who he is, as TOI doesn't believe in sharing details about its writers and contributors)- What’s in a name? A lot, particularly if the name invokes an imaginary space rich in culture and geography.

Imagine the Netravati Express being renamed after a soap or a sari? Or Rupasi Bangla being prefixed with the brand name of a coffee or a condom?

Netravati and Rupasi Bangla stimulate our imagination. The former, a river that cuts through the Konkan, invokes a world that is lush, green and fertile.

The name captures the sound and the silence of a river that links the Sahyadri to the Arabian Sea. Rupasi Bangla celebrates the memory of a great poet; it captures the landscape of Jibanananda Das’s evocative poetry. A train thus becomes a bridge connecting a traveller to the cultural memory of a people and the natural wealth of a place.

2. Train names reflect geography, culture; make us realise our diversity...I don't think there is any space or sense for marketing/ advertising to enter anywhere near a train.

It's an utterly ill-thought, idiotic idea that must be protested against and nipped in the bud.

Also, with the laws of diminishing returns having already set in the over-stimulated out-door landscape, we need more surprise and sensitivity in the creative expression of commercial messages.

Mere plastering the logo won't sell more soap, sandals or saris!

1 comment:

Reshma Anand said...

Unfortunately people recognize a 'kurkure' or an 'ujala' more than netravati or rupasi bangla.
Do people even stop and think about the river and the imagery or the culture of a place when they read / write those train names.
Of course one can counter argue that it is precisely for these reasons that those names ought to be retained so that the meaning associated with them does not fade into oblivion - though forcibly changing names or retaining them is usually driven by bureaucrats wanting to assert power and does not lead to anything productive – how many of us remember Gandhi when we pass by Mahatama Gandhi Chowk? Any name will be met with the same fate given prolonged exposure .
I am not for brands occupying every conceivable free space we have though if lending a name can help fund an improved consumer experience - why not?