Skoda: Repositioning the 'Fab'ia

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | November 04, 2010
The campaign positions the car as a "fabulous package that appeals to people who have impeccable taste"

Tapping into the growing potential of the premium hatchback segment in the Indian market, Skoda has broken an ad campaign for the newly designed version of the Fabia.

Skoda entered the Indian premium car market in 2001, and the Fabia was first launched in India in 2008. Three variants of the product are currently available -- Classic, Ambiente and Elegance.

The Fabia launch campaign, 'Feel Special', ran from January to June 2008, after which came the Fabia 'Testimonial' campaign - this ran from August to October 2008. These campaigns were followed by the Fabia 'Superhatch' (January to March 2009 and September through October 2009); Fabia 'Car of the Year' campaigns (January to March 2010); and the most recent communication, prior to the launch of the updated Fabia, was the Fabia 'Test Drive and Get Hooked' campaign (April to July 2010).

The current campaign primarily aims to target both male and female audiences across India, within the 25-45 years age bracket, belonging to SECs A and B.

Addressing the shift in the positioning of the Fabia, Tarun Jha, head, marketing, Skoda India explains, "Earlier, the Fabia was positioned as a 'Feel Special' car. This came from the thought that the car made the owner feel special about himself/herself, as it was India's first and most accomplished superhatch. The current positioning of the car is all about a 'fabulous package that appeals to people who have impeccable taste'."

The campaign has been created by Saints and Warriors, headed by Pushpinder Singh. Mediacom is the media AoR for Fabia and handles the media duties for the entire Skoda portfolio. The creative team on the Fabia account comprises copywriter and chairman, Pushpinder Singh; creative heads, Pratim Putatunda and Mahendra Parab; art director, Shrenik Chheda; and senior visualiser, Komal Sawant.

In the 40-second TVC, currently on-air, one sees abstract images that connote how parts of the New Fabia resemble objects such as a surfboard, jewellery and precious stones. Fleeting visuals imply the resemblance between the car's headlights and the human eye; eagle's wings and the doors of the car; and hoop earrings and the steering wheel. A male VO accompanies these visuals. It says, "Caress the senses, explore new shores, sip the high life, grip the moment, the sound of a racing pulse, the whisper of class."

Towards the end, the VO says, "Look up, look beyond, see in a new light, the all new Skoda Fabia --Now, That's Fab." A super that reads 'Obsessed with Quality since 1895' appears on the screen.

This TVC also has multiple short edits (15 seconds) that would be followed up with fresh TVCs on the same positioning.

The campaign utilises traditional media, including TV, print dailies, magazines, radio, outdoor hoardings and airport branding; as well as online media, including display, search and social marketing.

Is the campaign 'Fab'ulous?

Charles Victor, national creative director, Law & Kenneth is of the opinion that the TVC has been executed in a rather "cold" manner and has utilised several clichés. "This whole 'product parts mimicking other objects' execution has been done over a decade ago; I don't know whether anyone should be doing this kind of advertising anymore. Comparing blinking eyes with headlamps is the amateurish first step; normally, one would get past that and the next ten steps," he points out.

"The word 'Fabia' lends itself to necessary word play, such as the use of 'fab' and 'fabulous'. This word association is tempting but clichéd," he continues.

Victor uses the recent commercial for Outlander as a reference point to compare the Fabia TVC.
"Though that wasn't a great ad, it successfully conveyed the car as a stylish one. In this Fabia ad, on the other hand, I don't think the consumer will listen to all that's being said. Also, with the 'dark zone-contrast' shots, one has no clue what's next. The eagle, for instance, comes flying out of the blue," he elaborates.

Lastly, he points out that Skoda Fabia's print ad, 'Style Shouts, Pedigree Whispers', had a good thought, adding that "The TVC, unfortunately, shouts instead of whispering".

Victor further opines that though the Fabia is being sold on the back of 'style', at the end of the day, the small car market needs something that moves or startles consumers.

"If your design change is radical, then it's probably alright to showcase it this way; but here, there's a sharp tonality contrast between the cold execution and the evocative and very emotive statement, 'Now that's fab'. When a change in style is thrown in people's faces this way, I don't think they're going to take to it in a positive and fab way," he states.

Sujit Das, executive creative director, Pickle Lintas is of a similar opinion. While granting that it is, in fact, difficult to advertise in the car category, he nonetheless claims that the technique of 'match-dissolve', which has been used in the Fabia TVC to bring out the similarity between product parts and other objects, is not a new one; it has been used in several bike commercials in the past. "This is a very generic way of highlighting product features. To romance the car, one needs much more than this," he says.

Adding that a very crucial "consumers' point of view" has been missed out, Das says he senses a disconnect of sorts between the commercial and what a potential buyer would feel after viewing it.

"The VO is very well thought out, but it's fine only at that level, that is, the surface level. The ad fails to dig deeper and provide some kind of consumer insight. From a buyer's point of view, the ad misses out on everything that the car has to offer, in the sense that I don't see why I should buy it, after seeing this ad."

He concludes, "There could have been a storyline in the ad to drive the point home. Here, unfortunately, the technique has become the plot."

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