afaqs!

SX4: The 'manly' gentleman

By Neha Kalra , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | December 10, 2009
The new commercial for the car brings out the man in a gentleman. afaqs! takes a peek

A gentleman has the 'manly' side to him too, which makes sure that he isn't taken for a ride. The new commercial for the Maruti SX4, the car which has been positioned as the 'male' car, tells the story of the emergence of a man from a gentleman. afaqs! wonders what's it like...

Defining the male creatively

The film opens on a man in his best behaviour - beginning with an old lady while entering the elevator, voicing courtesy with 'after you'. He follows the same behaviour with a lady who he meets at a party, while they are offered food and even at the valet. However, as soon as he is in his driving seat in the SX4, he insists that everyone else must be after him, including the lady whose car he overtakes.

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The car swishes past all other vehicles on the road. At a traffic signal, as the light turns green, the riders on Harley Davidson and Royal Enfield two wheelers also acknowledge the fact that he has to go first - who now give way with 'after you'. The film closes on a shot of the car and the tagline, Men are back. The voiceover adds: SX4 - For the man in every gentleman.

Sanjeev Handa, director general, marketing, Maruti Suzuki reveals that the brand has not vacated the masculinity domain. "Apart from being gentlemen, men never lose their masculinity," he says.

Lowe Delhi is the creative agency behind the film. According to Anand Suspi, creative head, Lowe Delhi, the product itself has undergone a refurbishment. With a new console and a lot more luxurious features, the car has the finesse and grace that a gentleman needs.

"One can be a thorough gentleman in most forums but there are moments when the man within a gentleman comes out - it is most likely to happen in a competitive scenario, which is portrayed in this case," says Suspi.

What do men have to say?

Prasanna Sankhe, national creative director, Publicis Ambience understands clearly that the commercial is pretty straightforward in establishing that men who drive the SX4 are gentlemanly, except when they are behind the steering wheel of an SX4.

Comparing this commercial to the earlier one, he says that SX4 had alienated a lot of people with its macho man imagery in the previous commercial. "This commercial seems to be trying to subtly correct that perception by saying that actually, the owners of the SX4 are gentlemen - it appears to be an image correction exercise."

Abhineet Singh, senior planner, Wieden+Kennedy says that he did not know that men ever ceased to exist! On a serious note, he likes the fact that with the SX4, Maruti is trying to position away from a family car image.

However, he thinks that there is a way to do this without being sexist or portraying a perfect gentleman turned moronic. "Does the ad work? I think so. There are plenty of men in India ready to swap roles with the lead actor in this film. You can find them driving on any Delhi street!"

Claiming to be an ardent follower of car review programmes, Sankhe views the SX4 as a feature packed car available at a great value. "Personally, I think that is a much more relevant point. That has also been the strength of Maruti as a brand - it has given the next segment feature in all its cars at unbelievable and often unmatchable prices."

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