The rate at which motorbikes are being launched on Indian roads, product differentiation and ensuring brand recall have become living nightmares for advertisers and marketers alike.
In the face of stiff competition, the quest is always on for that elusive creative idea that will stoke desire. The task is quite impossible, but when Jackie Chan (Yes! That's right. We are indeed referring to the international movie star) bobs up in the Bajaj Discover ad - falling irredeemably head-over-heels for this 125 cc metallic 'sensation' - chances are prospective buyers may actually take a fancy for this bike.
Before we closely inspect the new piece of communication made by Ogilvy & Mather, let's have a look at how Chan charms the viewers. The 90-second-TVC - which Prasoon Pandey, the director, prefers to call a mini-feature film - opens with a monk hurriedly walking into a monastery. He approaches a senior monk, and in a hushed tone, informs him of a certain development. The senior monk's expression changes dramatically. The two monks hurriedly walk towards a dormitory, where young trainee monks are fast asleep.
The two stop at a bed. The junior monk pulls out a poster hidden under the pillow of a young boy. Aghast at the boy's act of transgression, the senior monk pulls the boy by the ear and literally drags him to their next destination. The doors open and the camera zooms onto a human figure immersed in deep meditation. On close up, his face is revealed. It is Jackie Chan.
The two monks unfold the creased poster, and our supremo, who has renounced the material world, stares at the picture. It is the image of Discover. After a couple of futile attempts of avoiding direct eye contact, Chan is completely hypnotized by the image. In seconds, Chan finds himself transported into paradise. And what is Chan's version of paradise? Performing acrobatics on the motorbike, riding up and down a stairway, levitating on the bike, flying...
The brush with sweet, delicious temptation is soon over and Chan is back to the real world. Very bravely dismissing Discover as an inconsequential event in the scheme of things, Chan returns to his meditation. The monks leave. Clearly, the story isn't over yet. Chan opens one eye to inspect the scene. Assured that no one is in the room, he dashes out of the room, leaps into the air, his feet swiftly scaling the walls, lands on a tiled roof, just in time to grab the discarded Discover's poster - rising in the air. 'The Last Temptation' concludes the voice-over.
That precisely was the communication's objective - to project Discover as the most desirable bike in the universe. The Bajaj research and development team conceptualised the bike with a one-line brief: A bike with features better than any other in the segment, but at a comparable price.
"Bajaj's motorbike advertising has always underscored the youth exuberance. Discover - that has great fuel efficiency, gives a fantastic performance at 125cc, and available at an unbelievable price - had to be presented in a manner that delighted the customer in a clutter-breaking manner. The motorbike category is getting increasingly competitive and cluttered after all," explains R L Ravichandran, vice-president, marketing, Bajaj Auto.
A brilliant creative had to be at the heart of the story. What was in wanting was the right ideation. So the creative team at O&M was called over at the Bajaj factory in Pune to view Discover. That followed up with a chat with Bajaj Auto's R&D team.
"The central idea had to be about creating a larger-than-life biking experience…something that almost brought an electric excitement to the consumer. For that excitement, can there be anything better than creating sheer temptation?" asks Abhijit Avasthi, senior creative director, Ogilvy & Mather. Avasthi has scripted the Discover film.
With these pointers in mind, a story began to unfold itself. "Once the direction was clear, the story fell into place," Avasthi says. The interesting part is that the script, which, of course, is a living piece of work now, was first shown to the client when O&M had pitched for the bike. "The credit for the TVC really goes to the Bajaj Auto management because rarely do creative ideas presented during a pitch see the light of the day," Avasthi says.
It was a script that involved comic performances and oodles of action. But the protagonist was yet to be decided. There were no names in particular and the agency had someone Indian in mind. When the script was being discussed with Ravichandran, the name Jackie Chan flashed in his mind like a 1,000 watt bulb.
"When Mr Ravichandran suggested Jackie Chan, our first reaction was: Well…nice idea! But how do we manage it? Yes, it was just the perfect idea! Once we were assured that Bajaj was serious about Jackie Chan, we got him. And that is what one needs in advertising. One should not be so attached to that one idea that one fails to recognise other brilliant ones," explains Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and national creative director, O&M. With Jackie Chan in the picture, it became a 'dream casting'.
The project excited film director Prasoon Pandey. He found the script exciting, with a 'dramatic' beginning, an interesting 'middle' and a great ending. It actually read like a film script. And that explains its film like feel. The location of shoot was arranged in Shanghai and in the film-makers favourite city - Hengdian. An international crew - comprising actors from mainland China, set managers from Hong Kong and renowned stunt director Bruce Law - were absorbed in over ten days of pre-production planning. The shoot was executed in four days. The TVC was shot before Chan's visit to India and Hampi for a film shoot.
The Discover project is the biggest ever that O&M has executed and the most expensive that Bajaj Auto has financed. The executives can shy away from sharing the cost of production, but not from the hangover of Discover. Pandey of O&M has been getting calls from his clients describing the ad as "awesome".
Incidentally, Bajaj Auto has entered into a contract with Chan and if there be a need, we may see him again with Discover. In a sequel, perhaps?
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