SolarwalaBEST

With growing political support for electric mobility in Mumbai and the pressing need to improve the public transport system, the campaign aimed to leverage the unique role of BEST (Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport) in Mumbai. The campaign name, SolarwalaBEST, and its identity were coined to initiate dialogue on the otherwise far-fetched idea of solar-powered electric buses. The idea was to help people visualize an alternative to diesel-dependent public buses in the form of solar-powered electric BEST buses. 

 

The engagement with BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) and BEST was envisioned to facilitate a discussion and create a roadmap for renewable energy-powered public transport in Mumbai. The campaign aimed to garner public support for solar powered electric buses and create a roadmap to power a majority of the electric buses that will be inducted in the existing fleet in the near future with solar energy.

 

Created while working as a Visual Designer & Design Researcher at Purpose in New Delhi, India.

Service

Client

Branding & Campaign Strategy

Hewlett Foundation

Year

2019-2020

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OBjECTIVE

Using a multi-pronged approach, the aim of the SolarwalaBEST campaign was to amplify public demand for electric buses in Mumbai and support BEST in ensuring that the electric buses are powered using solar energy.

 

Engaging the people of Mumbai, specifically the commuters who use public buses, and mobilizing them to demand more solar-powered electric buses in the city was a fundamental objective of the campaign. 

 

OUTCOME

By convening authorities from different government departments and sectors in Mumbai, the campaign sought to design a clear roadmap for the use of solar-powered electric buses in the city. This case study outlines the campaign in detail. 

 

The campaign deployed several culturally-relevant interventions to appeal to the people of Mumbai. By working with Marathi actors, college students, and putting up street plays and road shows with partner organizations, we were able to make the cultural importance of BEST buses to the focus of the campaign.

Partnering with a local organization, Waatavaran, helped in recognizing the most effective approach, designing the interventions, and using local knowledge and language for maximum impact. The collaboration helped the partner organization in building their social engagement capacity as well. 

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Campaign Identity

The entire identity of the campaign was based in the pride and nostalgia that the people of Mumbai have towards BEST buses. A distinct visual language was created that was inspired by Mumbai’s pop culture and the iconic red and yellow colours of BEST buses. The hashtag #SolarWalaBEST was used in all the campaign collaterals. As a call to action for the digital campaign, a petition for BEST to introduce solar-powered buses on Change.org was launched and citizens were encouraged to sign it.

#SolarwalaBEST

The wordplay on ‘best’ and a mixed usage of Hindi and English words was deliberate, as it has proven to work better in past campaigns. To cater to the aspirational nature of the city, the identity’s theme was aligned with Mumbai’s pop culture, also inspired in part from retro posters of classic Bollywood movies. The content for public engagement was created in English and Marathi to increase the scope of reach on social media and offline events.

Local Artists

To get diverse perspectives on what the vision of a solar-powered mobility in Mumbai looks like, 5 diverse local artists were commissioned to create artwork that promoted the demand for better public transport and the use of renewable energy. Their artwork drove the point that the city’s public transport system more than a means to travel, and was an integral part of the city’s way of life. This exercise created a new, innovative, and dynamic tactic to use the local culture and identity of the city intimately in the campaign’s public engagement. 

The #SolarwalaBEST campaign, the artists, and their artwork were featured in Mid-day newspaper and VICE media , reaching over 5,00,000 local citizens.

College-going Commuters

College students were identified as one of the biggest communities of BEST bus commuters and were specifically engaged by partnering with students and helping Waatavaran create a student volunteer network. Street plays, marathi songs, and interactions were held at offline events conducted at BEST bus depots and stands where electric buses were parked.

One major attraction at all these events and activities was the engagement with a bus prop with the message “Mumbai wants #SolarWalaBEST.” The prop generated interest among students and other riders alike, and the audience was encouraged to click photos using the prop and share it in their networks. 

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Impact

The campaign was able to start a conversation with the residents of Mumbai to consider solar power as a viable option for powering the city’s public transport system. We were also able to successfully engage with government authorities and nudge them to consider expediting the use of solar energy in powering electric BEST buses. By involving artists, student networks, and partner organizations, we were able to reach diverse people in Mumbai and receive widespread coverage by the media as well. For more information, this case study outlines the campaign in detail. 

“Solar-powered buses are a good idea. We will definitely try out the option of solar buses and if found feasible, they can be implemented on a larger scale, too.”

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© Suma Balaram, 2020 

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