Sumo Grande MK II: More than what meets the eye

By Savia Jane Pinto , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | February 02, 2010
The Sumo Grande has been re-launched with changes in both the interior and the exterior of the car, with a brand new take on the positioning that offers more than what meets the eye

Tata Sumo Grande, the SUV from Tata Motors, was launched two years ago. The communication released by the brand around the big car was launched in the beginning of 2008. Two years later, the car has been re-launched with a different take on the same positioning.

In the earlier communication, the car was positioned as something that has more than what was apparent, with the tagline, 'More than what meets the eye'. In the earlier commercial, a lady followed the driver of the Sumo Grande in her own car but soon found out that the man, who she thought was driving by himself, was in the car with his little son.

The recent commercial for the brand introduces several changes. Called the Sumo Grande MK II, the model has a few additions in the exterior design and plenty of changes in both the interior and under the bonnet. There is also a fundamental shift in the target audience. Although initially it was aimed at the up market urban families, this time the target group is a broader lot - including traditional families from metros and smaller towns.

What you see ain't what you get

The ad opens on the shot of a street brawl caused by an accident. The owners of the cars are arguing and a huge traffic jam has been created due to the obstructing vehicle. As the protagonist watches from his car, a large built man, who looks like a thug, marches towards the arguing men. To everyone's surprise, he resolves the fight peacefully and streamlines the traffic that has accumulated. The protagonist drives through many such events in his journey, where first impressions aren't always the right ones.

The ad ends with the tagline, 'Jo dikhe usse kahin zyaada' - the Hindi version of the earlier tagline. Also, while the first campaign was aired in English, the current TVC is in Hindi.

The film was shot by Manoj Pillai of Thinkpot Productions.

Unlike most automobile advertising, the product in this ad has taken a back seat since the ad is viewed through the person driving the Grande MK II. Anup Chitnis, executive creative director, Ogilvy India, says, "The idea is to tell prospective consumers to check out the new Grande without any preconceptions."

The Sumo Grande doesn't have a very distinguishable exterior but all that matters about the vehicle has been included within and after a thorough feedback system that Tata has accumulated from customers, dealers and internal R&D.

When questioned about why it chose to keep the vehicle in the background, Chitnis says that since it's not the first time that one is seeing the Grande, it was better that they did more than merely show product shots. "The aim was to create enough intrigue by drawing a comparison from human life," he shares.

The changes include accentuated exteriors, refreshed upholstery, a new steering wheel, changes in the suspension, improved NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) and improved drivability. Sanjay Gupta, assistant general manager, utility vehicle product group, who also handles the marketing for the group, says, "We've taken off from the previous positioning. Though we've re-launched the brand, we have taken a different interpretation of that positioning since that's what the Grande is about."

Pillai, director of the film, who attempted to give it a documentary kind of feel, says that since emotional intricacies aren't woven into a segment such as automotives, the film was shot through the eyes of the protagonist who drives the product. Sharing his approach on the film, Pillai says, "As the film is in motion, thus implying that the car is present throughout the film, it was better and easier to bring across the thought provocation."

When afaqs! asked a few industry insiders about the impact of the new commercial, it received a mixed response from the fraternity.

Appreciating the production value and casting of the film, Robby Mathew, national creative director, Interface Communications, adds that he somehow feels that the brand is being apologetic. "The films seems to say 'don't be misled by the Sumo's looks, it has real substance inside'," he says.

Sandip Mahapatra, vice-president and head, planning, McCann Erickson Delhi is impressed with the positioning of the vehicle but thinks that the agency has to argue the positioning since the product lacks distinguishable exteriors. Mahapatra compares the dilemma of a prospective car buyer to that of a prospective bride hunter, saying that since no new characteristics of the vehicle can be seen in the ad, does the buyer have to trust something he hasn't seen in the advertising?

However, a second ad has been released simultaneously, which is smaller than the first one and focuses on the features of the car. Evidently, the Sumo Grande MK II hopes that those who have questions about the new features in the car will be enlightened by the second commercial.

© 2010 afaqs!