MUMBAI: Indian marketing executives have criticised the current quality of advertising for the nation's automotive brands.

"We haven't seen powerful stories being told by car brands," Avers Sourabh Mishra, national planning head and group chief strategy officer, Bates CHI & Partners, told the Economic Times.

In a reference to a campaign for the Volkswagen Vento, he added that it was clear the category was facing a creative challenge when a talking newspaper was the "creative high point" for an iconic brand.

A widespread criticism of the category, one of the largest in terms of advertising expenditure, is that ads have become formulaic, sticking to the theme of 'family and friends going on a long drive', with a focus on mileage.

Mishra's remarks were echoed by Anil Nair, chief executive of Law & Kenneth Communications: "All print ads have to show beautiful product shots and the television commercials spend the bulk of their time on great interior and exterior shots, leaving little scope for any real storytelling."

Meanwhile, Stephen Norman, senior vice president, global marketing and communications, Renault, conceded there was a lack of "creative noise" but said this was a reflection of the mood in the market.

Indian car sales were down 10% in April compared to the year before and this was the sixth month in a row of sales decline, the longest such period ever recorded by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

One brand taking a different marketing approach, out of necessity, is the Mahindra e2o, India's first electric car. A campaign developed by StrawberryFrog, a creative agency, positions the vehicle as a new idea and not just as a car.

Data sourced from Economic Times, Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff