Tata Safari Dicor: 'Reclaim Your Life' in New Zealand

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | February 25, 2009
The Dicor is back with a new rendition of the idea established in 2005 - Reclaim Your Life. The commercial has been shot in picturesque North Island, New Zealand

The Tata Safari Dicor is reclaiming TV screens once again with the latest rendition of the idea established in 2005 - Reclaim Your Life. The recent ad is the fourth one in the series and has been shot in North Island, New Zealand. Keeping in line with the earlier commercials, this one, too, urges consumers to get up and get going, doing what they always wanted to, before life passes them by.

'Dicorative' journey

Tata Safari launched the Dicor with the first 'Reclaim Your Life' commercial in 2005. It shook people out of their comfort zones with confessions of dreams left unfulfilled, goals abandoned halfway, and passions lost in conforming to the mundane. The outdoorsy vehicle promised the opportunity to get back into the game (one may recall that this ad came on the back of the 'Make Your Own Road' TV commercials for the Safari).

The first 'Reclaim…' TVC was followed by the 'Slavery isn't abolished' campaign - another attempt to get people to realise that they were slaves to routine and it was time to break free. The third commercial played around with the word 'Lines', exclaiming that the only lines that truly mattered were the ones a person made (shot of the car driving off, leaving its tyre marks behind).

Dicor's latest commercial opens on a shot of a man in a tent. As the camera zooms out, the 'tent' is seen actually suspended from the top of a steep cliff. From shots of snow covered mountains to sunny terrains and waterfalls, the Dicor ad covers it all. As picturesque shots of New Zealand in its splendour flood the screen, a super appears, 'If you looked back on your life, what would you remember? The corner office? The corporate power plays? The VIP lounge?'

At this point, a swimmer emerges out of the clear water, looking somewhere in the distance, as though looking forward to something. The ad ends with the shot of a man leaning against his Dicor, perched on a mountain peak. "Reclaim Your Life," goes the MVO.

"Reclaim Your Life as a positioning line has been seen in one particular way so far. We were given the brief to find another expression for 'Reclaim'," says Anup Chitnis, executive creative director, O&M South Asia. "So, we deviated somewhat in this ad."

While the earlier ads attempted to make the viewer realise the danger of being trapped in routines, this one takes a softer approach. Rather than capturing the gloominess of unfulfilled dreams, it talks of the things people wouldn't forget about their lives, and then asks gently whether they invested the desired amount of time in doing those things.

"There's always that one thing you'll remember for life. What the Dicor says now is - go for it," says Chitnis. Even the execution captures the outdoor moments when one simply enjoys the process of being alive.

The 'How' and 'Wow' factors

According to Louella Rebello, creative director, Ogilvy, people know what 'Reclaim...' stands for and the 'shaking people up' part has already been covered in the previous attempts. "So, while this ad isn't morbid like its predecessors, it is still unnerving with the question it poses," she says.

Unlike the first ad which showed a 'release' of sorts for the viewer towards the end (the high flying car shots, crafted by filmmaker Abhinay Deo), this commercial is more like a plateau, with a certain level of pleasantness throughout. "This is as close to the core of 'Reclaim...' as we have ever got," she explains, "and here is a larger question about life in general." Rebello, along with Chitnis and Rakesh Pandit of O&M, worked on the creative.

Directed by Adam Strange of Joyride Films (New Zealand), the ad clearly delivers on execution. "We wanted jaw-dropping visuals - which we got, thanks to Adam," she says. "Only in a place like New Zealand could we move from snow to waterfall in the same day!"

James Cowley was the Director of Photography (DoP) for the film. The shoot took three days and involved the use of stuntmen for various shots. The tent was actually suspended from the side of the cliff with a jeep jack for support. The swimmer in the film has been played by a local stuntman, who seemed rather comfortable and at home in the freezing water.

The lyrics in the song track ('Life goes by before you know it, can you feel it pass you by') has a plaintive, melancholic feel to it and has been sung by Rebello. The music was composed by Rupert Fernandes. "In fact, I was asked to sing in such a manner that the audience should strain to get the lyrics," says Rebello, obviously to let the supers dominate the communication over the lyrics.

The film has been co-produced by Anzak Tindall of Joyride Films and Magen Appathurai of Biscuit Films, while Porus Khareghat and Vikram Bangera of O&M's films division have also contributed to the production.

Resonating with the industry?

While the commercial scores on execution and strong production values, it generates mixed reactions from the industry.

The planner in Naresh Gupta, executive vice-president, planning, Publicis India, comes bubbling to the fore when he says that the ad may suffer from a 'TG (target group) mismatch'. He says, "There is definitely a truth in the insight about life passing you by and day-to-day living taking the passion out.

"But life is about balancing passion with action. You cannot let one go for the other." This film is about giving up the 'corner room' and then living life. "Interesting from an execution perspective but my hunch is that an average Safari user is not the corner room, VIP lounge guy anyway - he is the earthy, outdoorsy guy and the brand communication may miss the real Safari audience," Gupta adds.

Furthermore, while he generously showers points for the concept, he ponders whether it's the right one for this brand. "Somehow it talks to a much more expensive, high end SUV buyer. Clever that the advertising pitches it up there, but that adds to the disbelief factor," he concludes.

Kawal Shoor is the planning head, Dicor, Ogilvy. However, the major planning work on the brand, including insight mining and research, were largely covered in 2005.

The creative leap: forwards or backwards?

On the creative side of the fence, afaqs! got Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, to share his thoughts. Pawar, who worked on the 'Make your own road' campaign for the Safari, says, "The Dicor, being a 4x4 vehicle, by its very nature has a certain roughness, grittiness and the exploratory factor to it. While the brand talks of what the office routines have robbed you of, I think the prettiness in this film robs the brand of realism!"

According to Pawar, the "altogether too sweet" factor in the ad is at odds with the communication carried out by the brand so far. He adds that the question posed in the ad is not powerful enough. "It looks like it's out of a self-help book," he quips. "If it's a life statement by the brand, it should be thought provoking and not preachy."

Other senior creative people contacted by afaqs! give the film full marks on execution and soundtrack. "Great DoP," says one, on condition of anonymity, "but the idea is not anything like the original." Another says that the ad is like a tourism postcard for New Zealand. To that, Rebello retorts, "We didn't want a Getty Images feel, the 'awe' factor just supports the brand story of getting back to moments you won't ever forget."

afaqs! also spoke to Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar, chief creative officer, Rediffusion Y&R, who first came up with the line, Reclaim Your Life, along with Rebello, and knows exactly how tough it is to deliver on that particular brief. According to him, the new film is nice but the tone and manner of the brand which was originally conceived is missing.

'Reclaim Your Life' stemmed from the insight that a majority of people aren't following what they had dreamt of in their early days. Making people realise that is one 'helluva' job. "But the provocation of, say the 'Slavery' ad, is missing - the ad has been shot softly, which dilutes the brand's core strength," Mahabaleshwarkar says.

The ad misses out on a voiceover, which could have lent it more credibility. "The sheer number of people who end up missing the first three supers of an ad like that is not funny," he exclaims. Furthermore, the Gladiator-like music, according to him, is a misfit. "Music is the sub-text in your ad. One should be careful about what track is chosen," he concludes.

© 2009 afaqs!