Bajaj XCD: From catfights to Arabian Nights

By Savia Jane Pinto , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising
Last updated : July 28, 2009
Bajaj's long-term aim is to convert the majority 100cc bike owners to the mid-segment junior Pulsar -- Bajaj XCD DTS Si

One has grown up hearing stories of the genie trapped in a bottle, who, when freed, grants three wishes to express his gratitude. In a new campaign for the XCD 135 DTS Si, Bajaj Auto has used this Arabian Tales' character to its benefit. There's a twist in the tale though.

Lamp! Genie! Poof!

After the leather pants, high heels, drama and stunts in its first campaign, Bajaj XCD 135 DTS Si has turned its focus to the simpler man.

The first campaign for the mid-segment bike was launched in February this year. The second one is to maintain the saliency of the brand and take it forward.

Created by Ogilvy India, the ad film opens on the shot of a man walking barefoot on a beach. He trips on an ancient lamp and out comes a genie, who is ready to grant him his wishes. The man asks for a house. Poof! He is in front of a palatial house, but the man asks for something more ordinary. Though surprised at his demand, the genie grants him an ordinary house. Similarly, when the genie gives him a modern-looking life partner, he prefers a more traditional-looking girl. He cites the reason that he is an ordinary man.

The ad ends with a shocked genie, who cannot understand this man's motivations. When the genie grants him a Bajaj XCD 135 DTS Si bike as his mean machine, the man is more satisfied with an ordinary bike, as the XCD is way too special for him.

The film has been shot over two days in Madh Island, Aksa Beach and Film City in Mumbai. Prashant Issar of Corcoise has directed the film.

Issar didn't want to use any special effects in the film for the genie. "They've been done far too often," he says. The sequences, where the man makes his wish and the genie grants it, are simple cuts, where the camera moves to the sky and then, cut to the next shot.

Casting was of utmost importance for the film. Gajaraj Rao, director with Code Red Films, plays the genie. Issar wanted someone who could portray the frustration and anger of a spirit locked up in a lamp for years. Also, Issar didn't want to dress him up like the fairytale genies, but make him more contemporary.

Message in a lamp

Though a stark contrast from Bajaj XCD's earlier commercial, Bajaj insists that the bike continues to be pegged as a "chick magnet" - had the protagonist chosen the XCD, the subliminal message is that his wish would be at par with other "special" wishes, such as an attractive woman and a palatial house.

Milind Bade, general manager, marketing, Bajaj Auto, agrees that there's a marked change in the tone compared to Bajaj's previous campaigns, be it for Bajaj Pulsar or even the earlier 'Twisted Sisters' campaign.

The percentage of consumers that pick low segment bikes (100cc) is far greater than those who choose a mid-segment bike (100cc plus), explains Bade. Bajaj has expanded its target group from youngsters to include working executives as well. Hence, Bade expects to have a greater number of converts from the commuter bike segment to the XCD, as the bike promises a commuter bike with a few sporty attributes. The brand is, thus, targeting the 100cc bike owners, and aims to induce them to upgrade to a mid-segment bike.

I dream of Genie

As the bike is a junior version of the Pulsar, the whole idea is to peg it as "special" among the herd. Ogilvy India had a broader populace to talk to, since the brand wanted to address the commuter bike owners too.

Abhijit Avasthi, executive creative director, South Asia, Ogilvy, shares that in the case of the first campaign (Twisted Sisters), the objective was to build imagery for the brand and for the bike. With the second film, says Avasthi, more reasons and a rationale are given to choose the bike.

The agency took the anti-norm approach and depicted a character that the viewer would not want to be.

Rubbing the right way

afaqs! spoke with others in the industry to find out whether rubbing the viewer the wrong way is a good route.

Deepesh Jha, creative head on Airtel at Rediffusion Y&R, agrees that pricking the male ego, by telling him that you're losing out on a lot more when you don't ride a Bajaj XCD, is a nice approach. Jha also notices the change in language that Bajaj has taken with this particular commercial. "Bajaj has brought down the language in which it talks, much like a Bajaj scooter ad," he says.

Nandita Chalam, vice-president and senior creative director, JWT is pleasantly surprised. In a category where most advertising centres on special effects and fast moving shots of the bike, the age-old story of a wish-granting genie comes as a breath of fresh air, she says. Chalam also thinks that the route the agency has taken to prove the point - that the bike is special - is good.

Though when compared to the slick and fast ad that the brand released earlier, this one falls a bit short, thinks Bapi Bit, senior creative director, Publicis Ambience.

This campaign is mainly relying on television. Some print and outdoor has also been used.

First Published : July 28, 2009

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