TOI launches a new cartoon strip on Mr Wizer

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | July 16, 2009
Mr WizeR is the new mascot for Maruti Suzuki's WagonR. The animated character will also be extended to online and television

Maruti Suzuki has come up with a mascot, Mr WizeR, which would promote its hatchback car, WagonR. The cartoon character will debut in a cartoon strip in The Times of India tomorrow (July 17).

WizeR is an amalgamation of the brand name, WagonR and his inherent trait, 'wise'.

The cartoon strip, to start with, will appear every Friday, on the business page of The Times of India. Mr WizeR will also be seen in blogs, online virals and TV campaigns.

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According to Shashank Srivastava, chief general manager, marketing, Maruti Suzuki, "The objective of the campaign is to revitalise the brand and beat the clutter with an innovative concept, while communicating the core strength of the brand in the most effective manner. Mr WizeR embodies the values -- smartness and leadership -- that brand WagonR stands for."

The idea has been conceptualised by Times - Red Cell & Auto Vertical, Lintas Media Group, the AoR on Maruti Suzuki. The creative team at Times Red Cell will also work on the story for the two or three column strip.

Mr WizeR, according to V S Mani, senior vice-president and general manager, Lintas Media Group, is a corporate executive, who has solutions to problems. He will be shown in both office and general life situations "WagonR will be an integral part of the storyline and the brand fit will be merged with the story," says Mani.

Mr WizeR's colleagues and friends often look to him for advice, because he has a balanced and practical approach towards issues. "Though he has a modern outlook, he is deeply rooted in the Indian value system," Mani adds.

Many companies in the recent past have dropped their popular mascots - Gattu of Asian Paints and the Maharaja of Air India are two instances. But Mani disagrees that having mascots is outdated. "Amul Butter's mascot - the Little Girl, is still going strong. The challenge was to bring alive the brand promise in an interesting manner. Through Mr WizeR, we would not only establish connect with the core audience, but it would appeal to the younger audience too," he explains.

The strip could be humorous, or could simply make a point, depending on the story.

According to C R Srinivasan, director, Times Group, coming up with an idea for the automobile sector, which is getting cluttered by the day, was a challenge. "The idea had to be in alignment with the brand value and the brand belief. It had to deliver what the brand promises to stand for, that is, being smart and being a leader. Mr WizeR just does that," he says.