Get a facial? In a village?
Yes. That’s right. A village barber has released an advertisement inviting fellow villagers to get a facial.

The advertisement was released by Riyaaz and Sartaj, owners of the Pappu Hair Cutting Saloon and Gents Beauty Parlour, on Gaon Ki Awaaz, (Village Voice), a mobile phone-based news service launched in Rampur-Mathura village of Uttar Pradesh in December 2009.

The message, which is a great example of hyperlocal advertising on mobile phones, was targeted at villagers living in and around the village, who till last year had no medium to communicate information.

The ad exhorted villagers in Avadhi, the local dialect: “Kyon shaadi ya baraat ki tayyari karni hai? To aiyee Pappu Hair cutting saloon and gents beauty parlour near Rampur-Mathura thana aur fashionable haircut aur facial karaye.” (Are you getting ready for a wedding or a Baraat (wedding) party? Then come and get a facial and fashionable hair cut done at Pappu Hair Cutting Saloon and Gents Beauty Parlour.)

This is the fifth advertisement to be released on Gaon Ki Awaaz, and another 15 have been sold. Clearly, the Indian villagers have found a channel to reach out to their fellow goaonwallas (villagers).

Says Satyendra Pratap,  the local pradhan and an ex-journalist, “The psychology is the same. Just as powerful netas (politicians) and celebrities want to see their name in newspapers or be seen on television channels so also the village merchants want their name to be heard on Gaon Ki Awaaz.”

Currently, the Gaon Ki Awaaz news bulletins are broadcast to 250 village subscribers as voice calls on their mobile phones. Several villagers switch on the speakerphone so that their friends too can listen in to the day’s news.

The news is gathered by two village reporters based in the village. It is recorded in the local dialect and broadcast twice a day – at 12 noon and at 5 pm.

Given the demand for more connections, there are plans to raise the number of subscribers.

Listen to the barber’s ad broadcast on May 3, 2010