Low-cost advertising thrives in Bangalore

BANGALORE Nov. 10. Ranganath Rao (name changed) is an LIC agent at Lingarajapuram here. He has a simple low-cost method of advertising. He uses newspapers and magazines.

Whenever a policy of LIC needs publicity, Mr. Rao gets a number of pamphlets printed. The paper is thin and contains all the relevant material — dates, policy details, contact numbers, etc. The pamphlets are then given to newspaper and magazine distributors who carefully fold them inside the publications, and ensure that every house in and around Lingarajapuram gets a copy.

"My development officer suggested this method," Mr. Rao told The Hindu. They distributed 5,000 pamphlets, only one person called back, he admitted.

"My colleagues and I have done this many times. Usually, the response is good,'' he said. (He even tried to sell this reporter a policy.)

Mr. Rao is only one of many such enterprising advertisers. Everyday, a deluge of such low-cost advertising hits every home in Bangalore. The products advertised range from water supply (for example Sri Beereshwara Water Suppliers), fast food (Domino's Pizza) to "Learn Good English in Three Months", and fitness centres and motorbike showrooms.

While the method may be ingenious, their efforts have not always pleased the recipients. "The minute you open the newspaper a pamphlet drops out. It is very irritating," Rashmi Srinivasan of Cox Town said.

But newspapers are not the only target of advertising. Sometimes buses can indirectly help "direct selling". Not long ago Shwetha Shetty, a college student, got into a Shivajinagar-bound bus from Koramangala. When she had settled in, she felt a light tap. Thinking that it was the bus conductor, she turned to see a woman silently handing her a pamphlet. It was an "invitation to a wonderful business opportunity" from a well-known direct-selling brand. The advertisement spoke of "full-time" and "part-time" work where one could earn upto Rs. 10,000 a month.

A contact number and a name were written on it. Shwetha Shetty, however, did not take up the offer.

But as long as there are people like Mr. Rao and the silent woman in the bus, such advertising will continue to flourish.

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