ZUPCO has reached out to potential advertisers in an attempt to take advantage of the advertising space and captive audiences that it possesses. The ZUPCO Twitter account tweeted a price card (below) showing what they are asking for and the expected reach of the advertisements. There have been questions raised over the viability of ZUPCO especially looking at the last 30 years in urban transport in Zimbabwe so the move to open up income streams should certainly be welcomed.

ZUPCO has since its reinstatement received subsidies from the government to provide transport at cheaper rates than the private minibuses have been doing. With government plans to continue to expand ZUPCO, this posed one big problem, growth in fleet size meant growth in the subsidy. Imagine your business sold sweets and you made a small loss of 1 cent on every sweet you sold, no problem, you probably cover the shortfall through profit on other products. If for some reason you sold 1 million sweets on a day that’s $10 000 in losses, you’d have to have sold a whole lot of whatever else you sell to make it up.

Advertising is not new to the transport sector as private minibuses have been heavily in the practice. They lack the interior real estate that ZUPCO is offering but the idea certainly works well for the mobile billboards. The ZUPCO tweet mentions digital adverts as well which make a lot of sense and can be more interactive and enticing. The tweet and flyer do not give full detail but it seems they will be charging on a per bus/per route basis. This was one of the challenges I immediately thought ZUPCO would face in targeting ads. We live in a Google and Facebook world where advertising has become super targeted. It seems with ZUPCO one would be able to pick either individual buses or routes.

The pricing is best described as entry-level at ZWL$150 per day, ZWL$7000 per week and ZWL$3600 per month. What they have done well, in my opinion, is to make it simple. The price it seems applies to both digital and printed advertisements. We should expect to see some differentiation in these as the product is taken up. There is little that stands in the way of this advertising idea succeeding.

There’s always something…

Sadly there is always something to talk about beyond the subject and in this case, it was then ZUPCO tweet. The tweet included the flyer taken via a screenshot. The screenshot was taken by a phone using a language that looks like Chinese. This raised a few eyebrows and brought forward a few questions. Zimbabweans are understandably a little hostile towards certain organisations with years of bad blood and pent up frustration exacerbating the ill will.

Heading towards the festive it will be interesting to see how this ZUPCO advertising revenue stream performs. It is early days to tag it a success but it certainly has all the ingredients of one.