In an uncharacteristic move for an Indian public service enterprise (PSE), Air India has put out a circular to all of its employees asking them to paste stickers of Air India’s print advertisements on the rear windshield of their cars. While the airline says the strategy is aimed at brand promotion, a simple question comes up in mind – should a PSE ask all its employees to put the PSE’s promotional material on their personal vehicles?
The circular for the same was sent to Air India’s offices across the globe to all of its nearly 22,000 employees. While the circular asked employees to paste the material on their vehicles, the department heads have been told to conduct surprise checks on employees to check compliance.
Initially it was decided by a committee formed for Air India’s brand promotion and strategy that officers of senior manager and above pay grade, who claim fuel reimbursements, will have to comply with the directions. Later the requirement spread to all employees.
Air India has already placed an order for around 8,500 stickers and the airline argues that it aims to save money by avoiding the need to print ads again and again. It found that it is financially more viable to use employees to promote their brand and its offerings to the public which is largely unaware of Air India’s services.
The national carrier has been struggling with massive losses for over a decade and current CMD Ashwin Lohani has implemented a slew of measures in collaboration with the government to bring the Maharaja back on track.
The carrier has a total debt burden of over Rs 52,000 crore. Air India posted operating profits for the first time in over a decade in the last fiscal and the operating profit is expected to be in the region of Rs 600-700 crore this fiscal. The management has put strict punitive measures in place for all operational errors or delays. However, this kind of a brand promotion is a first for Air India and any other PSE in the country.