Making a mockery of competitor’s brand image is not a new trend when it comes to Marketing. Especially in the advertising arena, it’s something which is very common all across the world and at a snail’s pace, this trend has entered the Indian market too.
The latest ad for the Bajaj Discover 125 which takes the HMC’s products head-on is the one that is growing rapidly and has turned out to be the latest addition. The tag line refers to Indian consumer’s “Chalta hai” attitude. The ad shows three persons whose first preference was to buy Discover 125cc. However, they changed their decision under the influence of father, wife and boss respectively and bought other commuter motorcycles. Although the names are beeped, one can easily make out which motorcycle the advertisement speaks about!
“We have not yet beaten Bajaj,” said Mr. Brijmohan Lall Munjal, “they’ve just been overtaken by us.” This was in the year 2001 (that was a decade back) when the reticent Munjal family patriarch and chairman of Hero Honda understated the fact that his company sold more two-wheelers than Bajaj Auto.
Now commenting on this new ad, Bajaj Auto Managing Director, Mr. Rajiv Bajaj says the advertisement reflects a strategic repositioning and it’s not about Hero. “Our campaign is based on a consumer research interpretation and has nothing to do with taking on Hero,” he claims.
Industry watchers say the breakup with Honda has weakened the market leader in the Indian market and Bajaj Auto wants to make the most of it by trying to give a tough fight and claim the title for itself. Of course, being Numero Uno is what every company aims for.
“Now Hero is without the safety helmet of Honda,” says Prathap Suthan, chief creative officer of iYogi, a global remote tech support company. “So it is the best time for Bajaj to inflict maximum damage on the leader that is weak and vulnerable,” adds the man who created the government’s ‘India Shining’ and ‘Incredible India’ campaign.
They sound apologetic and wistful about their bikes. When they name them, a bleep sinks their voice, but it leaves enough for viewers to guess they are referring to Hero’s Splendor or Passion. “Discover nahin hai, par chalta hai,” each of them says. And the commercial, created by Ogilvy & Mather, ends with voice over, “Discover 125, ye chalta nahin, daudta hai.”
This kinda ad where Bajaj Auto takes Hero group is not the first time in India but has happened once in 90’s also. It was when a campaign for its 4s Champion teased Hero Honda with a tagline, “Kyun Hero?”
Bajaj Auto President, Motorcycles, K Srinivas claims that the advertisement does not take a dig at any rival, but wouldn’t comment on the bleep sound.
Bajaj Auto has decided to take the BMW way to make it big out here. Rajiv Bajaj says his company wants to do what luxury carmaker BMW did when it entered the US 30 years ago so as to reposition the leader. “Mercedes was already an established player. So BMW said that Mercedes is the ultimate sitting machine while BMW is the ultimate driving machine,” he says.
Now Bajaj wants to do something similar. “As part of an internal discussion, we felt that if you are not a leader, position yourself and re-position the leader by projecting yourself as the opposite of a leader… that’s what we are doing,” says Bajaj. I seriously loved this quote (atleast as a Management student).
The Discover series of bikes from the Bajaj Auto’s stable competes in the executive commuter segment in INR 40 – 50k price bandwhich accounts for about two – thirds of the total two – wheeler market that sells more than a million units every annum. The segment leaders here are the Splendor and Passion series of bikes from Hero group.
Analysts say Hero is grappling on technology front after the exit of Honda and this opens up the largest segment to competitors like Bajaj Auto and Honda Motorcycle & that plan aggressive model refurbishment and new launches.
“For the first time in a decade, Bajaj is sniffing an opportunity to challenge the numero uno,” says Mr. Saurabh Uboweja, director of brand consulting firm Brands of Desire. He says Bajaj’s take on Hero MotoCorp is deliberate and well timed. “By projecting buyers of Hero bikes as meek and compromising, Bajaj is also highlighting the weaknesses of Hero MotoCorp’s withdrawal of Honda and its tech platform.”
He also adds that Hero has money but no technology. This is something that Bajaj is going to take advantage of with its slew of new models blitzkrieg that it has lined up this year.
Let’s wait to see what HMC is upto for all this happening in the world’s most important two – wheeler market.