Western Railway’s not so ‘sarkaari’ social media strategy

Western Railway social media strategy

From warning ticketless commuters to telling people about COVID-19 precautions, Western Railway social media strategy is full of lyrical references.

Western Railway is among the first railway zones in the country to have outsourced social media creatives and ORM duties. Though still routed through the expertise of the Public Relations department, the communication is anything but what could conventionally be called ‘sarkaari’. From Netflix references to original lyrical takes, Western Railway social media strategy has seen multiple campaigns over the last year with the help of Ventures Advertising.

Currently, amidst the lockdown, the team is concentrating on spreading awareness about COVID-19 and reassuring passengers and commuters that they would be back in service soon. These campaigns are promoted on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and documented on YouTube.

Battling COVID-19

Ever since the early days of the COVID-19 threat being common knowledge, Western Railways has been running a popular content-themed campaign to raise awareness about hand hygiene and social distancing. Sub-themes here include Bollywood, Game of Thrones and Sacred Games. Every creative put forth includes a sketch of a popular song/dialogue twisted to fit the campaign narrative.

Leveraging movie topicals

On multiple occasions, Western Railway has participated in movie marketing topicals to put forth a favourable narrative. Recently, this was done for Love Aaj Kal and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan. While in the former, the organisation tried to portray progress over the years, the latter was a depiction of safety while boarding the train.

Lyrical with Gully Boy

The Gully Boy video campaign against ticket-less passengers was perhaps one that got a lot of traction because of topicality and execution. The narrative was based on how ticket-checkers are smart and despite all attempts, if you travel without a ticket, you won’t be able to outsmart them.

Original characters

In the last few months, Western Railway has worked on developing original characters – DabluR, his friends and family. Recently, they created a video to promote holiday trains and services. The video narrative is simple and nostalgic in nature. It draws on the rhetorical idea of playing Antakshri while travelling in train for leisure, especially when with family.

Colloquially gangster

The battle against plastic has been a prominent feature in almost all government communication in the last few months. It is directly related to the popular Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, for which communication is being disseminated in diverse ways. On their part, one of the content marketing tactics executed by Western Railway was to personify plastic as a gangster.

Sacred Games

The Railway Protection Force is a part of the Indian Railways. They are responsible for the safety of railway assets and by extension, passengers. In a recently released Sacred Games-themed campaign, the Bahane 25 tune was used to highlight their functioning and importance, and warn passengers against wrongdoings.

Regional festivities

A huge chunk of Western Railway is made up of Gujarat and hence Navaratri and Garba are important festive themes for this zone. Last year, they leveraged the theme to talk about the perils of using plastic. The narrative was created around the popular song, Sanedo.

Narcos and Kachros

Another campaign around garbage and plastic, Kachros was used to put forth a railway version of the Narcos theme tune, with Hindi lyrics. The visuals used in the video highlighted the various areas of concern when it comes to waste management at railway premises.

The use of memes and pop culture references in communication by government authorities is not new. However, it is always interesting to see the evolution and diversity of such communication. It is bound to help them connect better with citizens, engaging them using relevant themes.