actor Suneil Shetty is all set to endorse the Ford Endeavour, the sports utility vehicle (SUV) from the Ford India stable. This is the first time that the SUV will be associating itself with a celebrity.
Nigel Wark, executive director, marketing, sales and service, Ford India, says that the association has happened because Ford India has had a good year. The SUV segment saw an increase of 41 per cent in 2008, while the Ford Endeavour saw an increase of 45 per cent in the SUV segment. Ford India claims that the market share for Ford increased from 27 per cent in 2007 to 28 per cent in 2008.
Wark shares with afaqs! the reasons for signing a deal with Shetty: "Shetty is an all rounder - he is an actor, a producer and also an entrepreneur. He has a passion for SUVs and owns a couple himself. So, he makes a perfect brand ambassador."
A print campaign, conceptualised by JWT and featuring Shetty, is expected to be released on January 23. The campaign will utilise newspapers and general interest, lifestyle, travel and auto magazines. A small activity will be carried out in the Internet space, but the campaign will focus on print. Ford Endeavour does not intend to do a television commercial in the near future.
afaqs! spoke to some brand analysts to check whether this pair would indeed drive away together into the sunset.
Jagdeep Kapoor, chairperson and managing director, Samsika, says that Ford has made the right choice with Suneil Shetty as he is known to have a passion for SUVs. Shetty is a down to earth person, very grounded and, hence, has a substantial fan following.
He adds that Shetty would be a misfit if the core value of the brand was elegance, as in the case of the Mercedes Benz. Since the SUV stands for adventure and ruggedness, Shetty is a good fit and the only challenge is how the creatives leverage the 'fit'.
Nabankur 'Nobby' Gupta, founder, Nobby Brand Architects, agrees with Kapoor's line of thought. Gupta says that since Shetty has a macho image and a liking for SUVs, he is a good fit for the brand. He adds, though, that a better bet might have been a sports personality with a macho image.
Gupta says that Shetty will be accepted as the Ford brand ambassador by the masses because he is not a rising star who will take the attention away from the car. He will help the brand to retain its aura as Ford is itself a strong brand.