Yamaha SZ: The Hare and the Tortoise, revamped

By Rohit Nautiyal , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | September 30, 2010
With its latest entry level offering, the motorbike manufacturer is urging its TG to let go of the 'old' and adopt all that's 'new'

While most of us have heard the story of the Hare and the Tortoise and took it as one of the crucial lessons of life, motorbike manufacturer Yamaha is out to kill the didacticism with its latest campaign for the newly launched Yamaha SZ, an entry level offering.

The film opens on a traffic signal where a Yamaha SZ comes to a halt. The pillion rider, who happens to be a part of a film crew, gets a call from none other than the Bollywood hunk, John Abraham, who asks about her whereabouts. The girl, who happens to be the star's stylist, promises to reach the location within 20 minutes. As the signal turns green, while the Yamaha SZ zips away, other bikes turn into tortoise-shaped vehicles and start crawling.

The next few shots highlight the advantages of the bike over the tortoise-like bikes - such as extra comfortable seating, a 153-cc engine with extra power and a large petrol tank. As the bike zips inside the studio, it catches the eye of Abraham, who is so awestruck by the beauty of the vehicle that he forgets about the delayed shoot.

The background music in the commercial plays a new version of an old Bollywood melody - Ruk jaana nahi tu kabhi haar ke (originally sung by Kishore Kumar in the film Imtihaan). The new song says 'Ruk jaana nahi kachhue (tortoise) se haar ke'.

The campaign has been conceptualised by the team at ADK-Fortune including Rahul Katiyar, assistant vice-president and senior creative director, and Avik Kundu, planning head. Abhijit Chaudhuri aka Dadu has directed the film. The multimedia campaign will use print, outdoor, digital, in-cinema advertising and on ground activations.

Discussing the client's brief, Katiyar explains that a powerful engine available at an affordable price not only makes the other bikes look inferior and obsolete, but brings a new revolution in the entry level motorbike segment.

"Yamaha has a good image in the eyes of the end-user, who is not content with a bike with poor features and desires a bike which can represent his personality. Here, tortoise-shaped bikes work as a visual mnemonic for those who are stuck up with the old technology and thus are left behind," he adds.

Interestingly, there has been no use of animation or 3D to create the tortoise-shaped bikes. Instead, only two models of the vehicle were fabricated and with the help of graphics, were made to look like many in the film.

Pankaj Dubey, national business head, Yamaha Motors reveals that bikes in the 150 cc segment contribute a substantial portion of the revenue to the country's two-wheeler market. "With the launch of the Yamaha SZ, we are expecting a surge in the sales of our entry level segment by 80 per cent. Targeting males from SEC A, B and C, we have focussed on the features of the new offering in the communication."

The base variant, SZ 150, is priced at Rs 49,000 and the premium variant, SZ-X, is priced at Rs 52,000 (both ex-showroom, Delhi). According to industry estimates, the entry level segment of motorbikes sees average monthly sales of 1,10,000 units.

Recently, the company has also flagged off the Yamaha SZ Tour - Stay Ahead, a bike rally that will cover an extensive stretch across multiple states including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Orissa, Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in a span of 30 days. As a part of this, 20 bikers, divided into two teams, will cover these locations. The culmination of the tour will take place in Kochi on October 17.

The main objective behind this initiative is to get feedback on the performance of the new bike.

The commercial received mixed responses from members of the ad fraternity.

Anindya Banerjee, executive creative director, Law & Kenneth admires the creative execution of the tortoise-shaped bikes. At the same time, he feels that the overall execution of the idea is disappointing. Also, he adds that the commercial has some 'migraine-causing' graphics and looks like a desperate attempt to over-stylise a bike commercial.

Nirmal Pulickal, executive creative director, North and East, Mudra Group feels that the idea of 'racing ahead' could have been a layer within the film, rather than a dominant theme.

"At an endorsement level, using John Abraham is a really good idea as he's a well known motorcycling enthusiast. As a piece of creative work, I find the film unimaginative and dull. Also, the visual effects are low on quality. Most importantly, the device of using one object in colour and everything else in black and white goes beyond corny," he adds.

Arun Raman, senior vice-president, strategic planning, Lowe Lintas, questions, "What is the strategy? Is it to say - we make everything else look like tortoises, or is it that we look great, or is it about the speed? Clearly, the film is a flawed strategic intent against far better clearly positioned campaigns from Bajaj, Hero Honda and TVS."

He adds, "I like the ad for great bike shots in traffic and sound editing. Just wish they had a good script, too. Also, even John does not know why he is a part of the film - so how can I?"

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