afaqs!

A-Star on the road

By Abhishek Chanda , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | November 28, 2008
The latest offering from the Maruti Suzuki stable is positioned in the premium A2 segment

Amidst & #BANNER1 & # the uncertainty still prevalent in the Indian economy and the plunge that the automobile sector has taken, Maruti Suzuki managed to pull off the launch of its world strategic model, A-Star. Positioned in the premium A2 segment, the car was launched in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Chandigarh and Ahmedabad.

Hakuhodo Percept, one of Maruti's roster agencies, had bagged the creative duties for the brand around mid-July 2008. The agency defeated Maruti's other roster agencies, Lowe and Capital Advertising and external agencies, such as Publicis India, Grey, Euro RSCG and Dentsu, to win the Rs 45-crore account. The media duties are being handled by Initiative.

Hakuhodo Percept has released a campaign for A-Star, titled 'Stop@Nothing'. The campaign uses a mix of ATL and BTL. While the print ads, radio spots and outdoor ads are already out, the TVC is yet to be released. Sources say that though the TVC was supposed to be on air by early December, the unfortunate course of events in Mumbai might delay it to later in the month.

Agency officials also hinted that heavy BTL activities, including events and on-ground activations, are on the cards. A detailed programme, through which the consumer can get a touch and feel of the car, is also being planned. The brand will engage in online activities too.

The campaign has been created out of the Delhi wing of the agency. The creative team for this includes Aatanu Chakraborty, executive creative director and senior creative directors, Manish Masih (copy) and Biraj Banerjee (art).

Speaking to afaqs!, Amitabha Lahiri, executive vice-president, Hakuhodo Percept elaborates on the campaign. "It is quite a glorious achievement to have launched the campaign for A-Star. The car itself is of immense value to the Maruti stable, as it will be taken forward to an international platform too."

Commenting on the positioning statement, he adds, "The car has been positioned in the premium A2 segment and targeted towards urban young professionals. The attributes include stylish, sporty and youthful. The Indian youth is conceptually a single man, with a multifaceted career; a person who is avidly interested in music and cinema and holds attraction for the opposite sex. However, what is also crucial about him is that he is ambitious, believes in himself and will stop at nothing to achieve his goals and pursue his dreams. This insight aptly justifies our positioning statement."

What seems interesting is the choice of celebrity used to endorse the brand, director cum actor cum singer, Farhan Akhtar.

Though Maruti has never used celebrity endorsers, Lahiri reasons about Akhtar's choice. "I don't think Farhan is a celebrity endorser as such. I see him more like a youth icon, a rare, multidimensional character. He symbolises intellect coupled with good looks and charisma. He is more of a differentiator, as far as the run-of-the-mill celebrities endorsing brands on a regular basis are concerned."

Powered by the new, state-of-the-art, lightweight, 998cc K10B petrol engine, A-Star offers a mileage of 19.59 km per litre in its class, as tested by ARAI, Pune, the country's premier automotive research agency. The car is priced between Rs 346,775 to Rs 411,775.

The A-Star will be made in over 200 variants and exported to around 150 countries in Europe, West Asia, Latin America, Asia, Australia and Africa. It will contribute to half of Maruti Suzuki's overall export target of 200,000 units by 2010-11.

In addition to helping it take on the i10 locally, Maruti plans to use the new model as a relaunch vehicle in the European market. The company plans to commence exports of A-Star to Europe in early 2009. Though the communication strategy for the global campaign will change, making it a global brand with a local positioning, Hakuhodo will continue to handle the global advertising.