Honda Jazz: Bursting bubbles?

By Khushboo Tanna , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | June 19, 2009
A new commercial by Honda Jazz aims to position the car as a hierarchy breaker in the car segment and promote it in a 'league of its own'

Bursting the bubble has a whole new meaning now. A new commercial by Honda Jazz is out with a cactus plant to burst the bubble of its competitors. For the uninitiated, here's the plot.

The film opens on the shot of a man leaving office and placing a cactus plant in the trunk of his car. While driving home, all the cars he passes by turn into bubbles, which eventually burst into even smaller bubbles. Once he reaches home, his wife runs out of the house and opens the door of the car, only to see the cactus plant in it. She is surprised at first glance, and then realises that the plant has a flower. She plucks out the flower and is happy with the gesture.

The team from Meridian Communications, Delhi has conceptualised the commercial, the brief being to break down the hierarchy in the car segment, such as hatchbacks and SUVs, by positioning Honda Jazz as a car that is in a 'league of its own'.

The tagline, Why so serious?, is reminiscent of the famous dialogue from the Batman movie, The Dark Knight, where Joker, essayed by the late Heath Ledger, says the now famous words. Mayur Hola, creative director, Meridian Communications, says that the resemblance is "totally coincidental," as he wasn't aware of the words in the movie.

The tagline for the print launch campaign is 'One Life. Why so serious?' The TV commercial and the subsequent print ads will use 'Why so serious' as the tagline.

Behind the wheels

The TVC has been directed by London based filmmaker, Ben Dawkins, of a production house called Stink. The film was shot in Chennai and Pondicherry over a period of three days. The city scenes such as the flyover and the big buildings are shot in Chennai, while the close up of the car on the street is shot in Pondicherry as it has cobblestoned streets. The pre-production took almost 10 days while post production work took about 20 days.

During the shoot, the models were made to sit on custom made rigs which were made by Nomad Films. These rigs were then pulled by trucks and jeeps to give an effect of a moving car. The post production was again done in London by Glassworks, which has also done the post production for the recent Bajaj DTSi ad, BajajBots.

The music was also carefully composed as it had to sound like a classic hit and not an original. The song was composed in Shanghai by Diederik Van Middlekoop of Massive Music, while the recording took place in a studio in Amsterdam as the singers were from Amsterdam.

Anita Sharma, general manager, marketing communications, Honda Siel Cars, says that there is a two phase objective of the campaign. The primary objective is that the Honda Jazz should cut across stereotypical categories of cars as it has features such as adjustable and movable seats (like an SUV) and more backspace to store luggage (like a sedan). The secondary objective was to show that once someone sees this car, they would want to switch to the Honda Jazz due to its versatility.

The target group for the car is allegedly not demographic based but mindset based: consumers who have a youthful approach to life. That's why the agency was specifically asked to maintain a youthful and peppy feel throughout the ad.

Message in a bubble

Some ad folk point out that the Honda Jazz ad reminds them of a commercial done by Meridian's sister concern, Ogilvy India, for the Zen Estilo in 2006. While the Zen Estilo Ad portrayed other cars to be 'dabbas' (boxes), the ad for Honda Jazz plays around with a similar visual metaphor technique - only this time, it hails other cars as fragile bubbles.

N Padmakumar, national creative director, Everest Brand Solutions, is amongst the first to point this out. "There is a passing similarity to the Zen Estilo ad," he says. He also adds that both the ads did not appeal to him and he isn't clear what the 'bubbles bursting' meant to convey.

Sharma from Honda, on the other hand, explains that while the Zen Estilo ad made a direct reference to other cars in the hatchback segment, the Honda Jazz ad extends the 'bubble' concept to all car segments. "Throughout the ad, we have shown cars of various segments such as SUVs and sedans."

Hola says that there is also a deeper meaning to the 'bursting of bubbles' concept. The bubbles are egos; they appear very hard but are in fact very fragile. "The ad is about breaking stereotypes and that is reflected throughout the ad," he says.

For example, instead of getting a bouquet for his wife, the protagonist gets a cactus plant with a rare cactus flower. Even if people do not get the ideology behind the thought, Hola is sure that the viewers will be able to reach the conclusion that it was the cactus that burst the bubble.

Shalini Dam, national creative director, Grey Worldwide says that there are a lot of stories being told through this one ad and hence there is a possibility that it will leave the viewer confused. She adds that the 'bubble bursting' concept is confusing and has no relevance to the tagline.

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