Sunday, August 20, 2017

Tidied–up trains to draw ads

Myanma Railway is counting on its clean new carriages to draw advertising revenue, though another tender may take some time, according a senior official with the state-owned firm’s business department.

A future potential billboard pulls into a railway station in Yangon. Photo: Zarni PhyoA future potential billboard pulls into a railway station in Yangon. Photo: Zarni Phyo

The first tenders for advertising in late 2013 attracted a lukewarm response, with advertisers snapping up the rights to only a handful of new carriages and avoiding the more derelict rolling stock.

Officials are planning the second round of advertising, hoping to have learned from the last tender. One issue over the past year has been the state of some of the older carriages, while another was the lack of visibility of the circular train’s route around Yangon.

“Sometimes the circular train travels down routes that are full of bushes and the back-side of houses,” he said. “So they don’t want to advertise.”

Myanma Railway first announced plans to host advertising on the city’s commuter trains through state press in mid-October. Four companies have since won rights to advertise.

The highest bid came from Myanmar Distribution Group, who agreed to pay K20 million a year to advertise on an air-conditioned train with five carriages.

Other tenders to advertise on new engines cost K675,000 per engine and were won by three companies. New Life Advertising Group won the right to advertise on five trains, while Paing & Paing Co and ABC Media Group both won the right to advertise on one train.

However, no bids were received to advertise on the circular route’s 14 ordinary, non-air-conditioned trains.

With the contracted period now coming to an end, some companies are reluctant to renew their contracts. U Soe Moe Aung said that while most Yangon advertisers prefer billboards at heavily trafficked junctions, in reality mobile advertising using trains is more effective.

“If famous companies are interested in mobile advertising, it will develop, and at that time we will have another tender,” he said.

Media experts said trains are an effective out-of-home platform in Myanmar, particularly as they travel to different parts of the city and as the number of passengers using trains is increasing.

“This platform also allows for further creativity because advertisers are provided with a longer space as their canvas, and they can run ads as a series of stories for example,” said Rose Swe, managing director of Mango Media. “Additionally, unlike bus branding, advertisers don’t need to worry about accidents. Billboards by comparison tend to be quite cluttered and expensive.” – Additional reporting by Jeremy Mullins