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Riding on the wrong side?

Opinion, 16 November 2010

My first reaction to the Stallio Mahindra bike commercial was 'Wow' a brand is being really courageous, on a one way street riding on the wrong side? Very bold indeed!

Then as I saw the commercial the second time, some questions popped up in my mind. The first one being – who is this communication for? Is it talking to the usual bike TG? Because if it is, then does a biker to be look for safe driving as a motivation? No, I think. I have never worked on the two wheeler category so don't know the documented motivations, but as a young girl a 'boy' with a bike meant adventure, freedom and a style statement. And nothing was cooler than the Bullet, even an Average Joe riding a bullet was cool.

Driving fast has always been cool, driving rash never!

The dare devilry and stunts in commercials are performed to package the experience, very naïve to assume that bikers aspire to perform those stunts themselves.

Do you know anyone who throws a watch in a bucket of water to check whether it is really water proof?

So Aamir saying, you can repeat all that I have done in this scene, though a tongue in cheek remark against other bike adverts, am not sure whether it does anything for the Brand itself.

I thought, maybe the commercial is talking to a slightly older TG. One who is married, with responsibilities and needs to be told that make your 'cool' statement but take your mom along on a date! If I know a little bit about purchases post 40, especially purchases that make a statement, then most consumers who I like to call the 'older youth' would buy youthsy/gutsy stuff that helps them hold on to the last few years.

Maybe the commercial is trying to woo potential two wheeler buyers who are yet undecided between a scooter and a bike. (Wonder whether that can be?) The proposition then could be the looks of the bike and the safety of the scooter? But it is so unconvincing even as I write it and even if there were a consumer with that need state, how big would be that segment?

Then who is this communication meant for? And what does it want to achieve by going against the very core of the category? When a Brand decides to break the rules, it still doesn't get absolved of the responsibility of delivering the core emotional experience. Power, Freedom, Confidence, or whatever it is. Taking an 'anti' stance can build 'Brands' as long as there is a strong reason for the consumer to vibe to that stance. So if this bike is for people who need a two wheeler transport and promises 'freedom' with responsibility , it sounds way too idealistic!

When a Sprite says baki sab bakwaas , the product is 'clear' and supports the proposition and when a dove says imperfection is beautiful, it is supported with a product strength of simple moisturizing. If a Brand is breaking category codes, the product support has to be strong; The 'Uncola' wasn't just a cola with less fizz!!

Every Brand has had its reasons to break the category code, what's yours Mahindra Stallio?

About the author

About my work – I have over 17 years of experience in the field of marketing. A large part of my career has been in the area of Brand management and Consumer research. I am now working with JWT in strategic planning as a Vice President and Strategic Planning Director. I have mostly spent time in the FMCG sector (packaged foods, home textiles and healthcare) and extensively worked on new Brand launches and repositioning of Brands. I have believed in maintaining a strong consumer focus in all the marketing work that I have undertaken.

About me – I am married with two lovely children who teach me a lot about life and give it a zing that only children can. I am a trained classical dancer, love to dabble in paint and like to read in my spare time. I feel the urge to write when I want to provoke thinking on an issue that I feel strongly about.

About my education – Through my studying and working years I have been almost obsessed by human behavior and the forces that alter it. Most of my education has largely been through keen observation, though I also hold a Ph.D. in Consumer Behavior titled "The changing psychographic dimension of the consumer & its impact on marketing strategy" from the University of Mumbai and am a postgraduate in management, PGDM (Marketing) – Sydenham Institute of Management, Mumbai, India.