Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Published in Nov-Dec 2015

Deals on PakWheels

PakWheels released a 360-degree campaign to officially launch PakWheels as an auto vertical classified.

The growing interest of international players such as OLX in Pakistan’s classified market has started a full-scale online classifieds war. The most recent blast came from PakWheels which released a 360 degree campaign to officially launch PakWheels as an auto vertical classified.

The website was first started in 2003 by Hanif Bhatti as a forum for Pakistani car enthusiasts to talk about cars and share their experiences. Then gradually over the years, it shifted focus and carved out a niche for itself in classifieds and had bagged almost a 70% share of the auto vertical pie before OLX started an aggressive campaign to establish itself as the biggest horizontal classified in Pakistan, and more recently, to claim the online car sales territory from PakWheels. This forced PakWheels to do something more than the usual car shows and content and digital marketing to secure their turf.

Ahmad Saeed, COO, PakWheels, explains the reason for the formal launch. “I won’t deny that our timing was influenced a bit by the massive ad campaign run by OLX. OLX has hit the auto classified portals in India badly and we knew that if we didn’t start now, our fate would not be different. However, the main reason for this launch is that PakWheels as a brand has grown so much that we felt it was the right time to reach out to wider audiences. We now want to own the industry of selling cars.”

Saeed elaborates that the only thing holding them back from advertising in the past was the fact that they didn’t have the budget to invest in advertising.

“When we started we had no money, so we limited our brand building efforts to attracting car lovers to the PakWheels forum though Facebook ads and e-newsletters. Having said this, we always did plan to do a creative ad campaign.”

However, the TVC has a fairly simple and generic message. Ali Nawaz Gondal, Creative Director, Walter Pakistan (PakWheel’s creative agency) explains this by saying that “the opportunity was very simple. We had the first mover advantage and were considered an authority in cars. Our key USP is that we are an auto vertical classified as opposed to OLX which is more like a general store. We wanted to communicate this USP in a way which is creative, exciting and different without making it too complicated.”

“Selling cars online is a new phenomenon in Pakistan and OLX’s campaigns have helped change perceptions and bring more people to online classifieds.”

According to Gondal, the primary target audience are SEC B and B+ and when Walter carried out a dipstick survey in this segment, they found that most people knew about PakWheels and were either using it to buy/sell cars or had at least visited the site once, so “we knew that all we really had to do was to go out and own the category.”

Zeeshan Javaid, Account Director, Walter Pakistan, adds that the campaign objectives were not to just claim a bigger share in the existing pie... “reaching out to people who do not go online to look at auto classifieds was also a major objective.”

The decision to create a TVC was also dictated by the fact that in their opinion TV lends more credibility to a business, says Javaid.

“In Pakistan if you only have a presence on the web, you tend to lack that authenticity. People will wonder whether the business has a physical office or not. Once you advertise on TV, people start thinking of you as an important brand.”

However, will a mass media campaign be enough to establish PakWheels in the presence of international players like OLX, which according to PakWheel’s estimates have invested around Rs 400 million in mass media campaigns?

Saeed is confident that OLX’s presence in Pakistan is as much an opportunity as it is a challenge for PakWheels.

“Selling cars online is a new phenomenon in Pakistan and OLX’s campaigns have helped change perceptions and bring more people to online classifieds.”

Once its online auto classifieds user base increases, PakWheels is confident that it can take over the market due to its credibility in the car selling/buying business. To further strengthen this image, PakWheels has introduced a new paid-ad feature for classifieds called Certified Ads. A 200-point checklist has to be cleared before a car ad is considered ‘certified’ – a system that will help buyers in their decision making process.

Gondal confirms that the media campaign will be followed by a tactical advertisement campaign.

“Now that we have communicated the fact that car deals should happen online and that PakWheels is the industry expert, we will keeping adding value to this notion. In the future we will release functional ads to highlight our offerings, USPs and services, such as certified ads, new car prices and reviews.”