By M.T. Yogesh Kumar
Modified vehicles decked with party symbols and campaign livery slowly cruising through roads and remote by-lanes of a Constituency blaring out political messages for long has been an inevitable tool for any candidate to reach out to voters.
Though the style of campaigning has not changed much over the years, the vehicles have become more professionally designed, hi-tech and comfortable. Designers of display materials are now offering re-branding as a package and are striking a handsome deal from political parties for campaigning in style, in a plug-and-play mode.
As the political campaign scene picks up the pace and politicians prepare to hit the roads, sturdy custom-built vehicles and political branding have seen an exponential demand. Professionals specialising in re-branding passenger vehicles, open jeeps and goods trucks have been receiving orders for modifying vehicles into attractive campaign vehicles, complete with party symbols, flag colours and photos of leaders painted on them.
This political branding is one of the most visible and creative ways to showcase the party or a candidate in front of the voter. Visible, because the re-branded vehicles move all over the targeted Assembly Constituency and instantly garner attention wherever they go. Creative and artistic or a smartly designed and properly installed vehicle vinyl wrap can significantly enhance the appeal of the vehicle and make it stand out from the crowd during road shows. Apart from attracting viewer attention, such vehicles display party symbols and faces of candidates and the leadership, creating a brand identity.
When it comes to re-branding any vehicle to suit political or medical purposes, N. Ram Prasad is a known name in Mysuru city. He earned name and fame by doing similar tasks during the 2018 Assembly elections and when the killer COVID pandemic hit Mysuru and there was a need to modify tourist vehicles into ambulances.
During the peak of the pandemic, there was a dearth of ambulances to ferry patients to hospitals and take the dead to crematoriums and burial grounds. Ram Prasad owns Ultra Radiums at Vidyaranyapuram which is a full-fledged fabrication workshop. “I have converted more than 30 tourist vehicles into ambulances during the pandemic and supplied it to other districts as well,” he told Star of Mysore.
Branding and fabrication work
Now Ram Prasad is busy re-branding political campaign vehicles. “I have already converted eight to nine vehicles so far for the BJP and Congress. Those were their own vehicles and I did the branding and fabrication work including top lighting, inside and outside frames giving it a new appearance, and design, with party symbols and photos. We ensure that the party flag colour merges or gels with the vehicle for that distinct appearance,” he said.
Stickering, facilities to stand inside the vehicle, sound system and stand for the generator are provided. “It will take six days to refurbish a vehicle fully. If it is a minor branding work, it will take three days,” he said. Ram Prasad has designed the vehicles for campaigns at Chamaraja, Holenarasipura, Nanjangud and Chamundeshwari Constituencies so far.
“The desired sound system for the vehicles must be purchased by the people who issue orders for re-branding the vehicles and we will install the same. Also, before we take any orders, we ensure that explicit permission has been sought from the Election Commission (District Administration) to design vehicles and how many campaign vehicles are allowed for each candidate. We do not take up unauthorised branding. Production of permission letter is mandatory,” Ram Prasad added.
Demand high in 2023
During the 2018 elections, Ram Prasad fabricated just two to three vehicles. “This time, there is a good demand and more orders are expected after the last day of filing nominations and as the campaign picks up momentum. I have six to seven workers in my team who do the fabrication and stickering work. I have asked six or seven more to join the team,” he added.
Ram Prasad is getting many repeat orders and most of them come through known references. “Conversion usually is an expensive affair considering the raw material prices and the cost of labour. But we ensure that the quality is maintained and clients are happy,” he said.
The workers at his outlet save time taken for painting by pasting radium stickers on the vehicles. “These stickers and vinyl sheets can easily be removed after the elections and even the fabrication works are not permanent. Every fitting is with nuts and bolts and can be easily detached. The modified vehicles can be brought back to their original shape and colour in no time and there will not be any dent or damage,” Ram Prasad claimed.