Product / ServiceOLA BOAT
CategoryA03. Cars & Automotive Products & Services


Name Company Position
Team Happy Happy Creative Services India Pvt. Ltd Core Team

The Campaign

Ola sprung into action to create Ola Boat to provide timely aid to stricken customers, who were trying to hail cabs in their desperation to escape the floods. Ola Boat- a temporary free service made up of 14 hired boats manned by firemen from the Fire and Rescue Department of Tamil Nadu along with local fishermen. The boats and the service were the idea, the media and the message. An idea that went beyond mere communication. Ola Boat delivered what no Facebook post or tweet or freebie or campaign could- safety and hope.


Within a few hours of the city getting flooded, the Ola Boat service was pressed into action. 14 boats manned by personnel from the Fire and Rescue Department, local firemen and fishermen were deployed with essential supplies for free distribution like drinking water, food and basic medicines. The boats were deployed with just a tweet about the service. Stranded people who needed the service were asked to tweet their location with #OlaBoat. In addition to going to locations requested by people, Ola Boats were deployed to 8 areas identified by on ground rescue agencies that were not receiving enough assistance. After the initial tweet, Ola did not need to employ any other media. Volunteers, other rescue personnel and people impacted spread the word about the service. The boats made over 200 trips with more than 700 man hours and provided relief and safety to nearly 750 families.

- Within 2 hours of the launch #OlaBoat became a top trending topic on Twitter - The rescue effort started getting covered by by leading national and international publications within 5 hours of the launch of the service. - In total, 30 international publications including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, BBC and Huffington Post. It was also covered by more than 50 leading national publications and news channels. -In a span of two days, Ola Boat had over 130 stories in print, electronic & digital media around the world. -There were 79 million social media impressions, with 6043 unique authors engaged and 8567 mentions on Facebook & Twitter. -The initiative generated a total earned Media Value of INR 22 million(USD 0.32 million).

The Situation

Creativity from brands is not only about messaging, it can also manifest itself in the form of being there for the consumers at the time when it is most needed. The Ola Boat initiative is an example of such creativity from Ola, an on demand transportation service provider in India. Ola, the UBER of India and its biggest competitor, cemented its reputation as a transportation provider for India's masses by being creative beyond messaging. Ola rose to the occasion during the Chennai floods by moving past purely commercial purposes to answer the call of duty and the people.

The Strategy

The target audience were people stranded in their houses without access to any evacuation or basic supplies like drinking water, food or medicine across different afflicted areas of Chennai. The approach was to deploy the boats as a real service. To reach people in need of evacuation just like how an Ola cab could be requested by some one in need of transportation. The Ola Boat would not be just another boat manned by well intentioned volunteers. With the help of the firemen and local fishermen, stranded people would receive as professional a service that could be mustered- safe and reliable. The only differences were that Ola employed the use of Twitter instead of it’s app and people would be getting into an Ola Boat and not a cab.