XUV500: Killing aspirations

By Anushree Bhattacharyya , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising
Last updated : February 14, 2012
The campaign for the newly launched sports utility vehicle XUV500 is based on the consumer insight that people look for exciting moments and experiences that can later be shared with friends.

What would you expect from a globe trotter? Definitely, his experiences of having seen the world! The campaign for Mahindra's new sports utility vehicle (SUV) XUV500 is based on the consumer insight that it is no longer about living a rich life, rather people are looking for exciting moments that can be transformed into experiences and stories, which they can share with their friends.

Conceptualised by Interface Communications, the television commercial, titled 'Cheetah Inspired', shows a man sharing the story of an adventurous experience while crossing a jungle. He narrates how he ran into a group of tribal women who tried to capture him and reveals how he escaped in his SUV, with one of the girls from the group. The thought is further emphasised with the tagline, 'May your life be full of stories'.

Vivek Nayer

Robby Mathew

Speaking about the idea, Vivek Nayer, senior vice-president, marketing, automotive division, Mahindra & Mahindra, says, "The styling of the car is inspired by the Cheetah. One look at the front grill, the rear bumper, as well as the door handle (which looks like claws) gives a clear picture."

"Also, before the launch of any vehicle, we conduct an insight expedition where people from our marketing team and the creative agency carry out a research on consumers' thoughts and beliefs. This time, the feedback was that people like to share interesting experiences with their friends. We thought this feedback was a powerful one, and realised that this thought can be applied across the globe, starting with India."

Interestingly, the company launched the campaign approximately five months after the vehicle was officially launched.

"While the vehicle was launched towards the end of September, 2011 in five cities, it catapulted into instant fame. Within 10 days of the launch, we already had a long list of bookings. We recently launched the vehicle in 14 more cities and once again, we have 25,000 pending bookings. The demand for the vehicle has remained high, therefore the idea was not to promote the brand for sale, rather create an image," explains Nayer.

Robby Mathew, national creative director, Interface Communications, says, "The XUV500 is a vehicle that does not look like any other SUV in the country. It is truly a global vehicle. Its design and technology rivals the very best in its category, anywhere in the world. Hence, the edgy idea and the British humour. The ad, with its over-the-top plot, different narrative style, and the action and setting, tries to reflect this. Also, people who have travelled a lot, seen different places and done different things are interesting people. They have interesting stories to tell. These stories take us out of our mundane existence to promise us a life that we could live, if we only we had the courage and desire to do so. Therefore the tagline, 'May your life be full of stories', was created."

The company plans to launch print, digital and out of home campaigns across the country to extend the communication.

A daring tale

Advertising professionals feel that for an automotive brand doing well, the campaign kills the desire to own the brand, as it fails to create a connection.

Charles Victor

Jitender Dabas

Charles Victor, national creative director, Law & Kenneth, remarks, "I am willing to ignore the apparent disconnect between the 'cheetah inspired' line and the idea. What bothers me more is the idea itself. It's a story you've heard before and even if you didn't, seems predictable. The acting was a letdown that fell further because of a completely mismatched voice. And then, there is the ghastly song that quite literally adds fuel to the fire lighted by the women of the jungle.

"Am I the only one to have watched this commercial intently enough to notice that one of these women also knows how to drive? I do like the idea, 'May your life be full of stories', but have to admit, this was not a very nice story."

Jitender Dabas, senior vice-president and head, planning, McCann Erickson, says, "The demand for the XUV500 is far outstripping its supply in the market and there is a long waiting list of aspiring buyers for the product. I feel there wasn't any need to kill that aspiration through such a commercial. Projection of power, status or masculinity is the reason why SUVs are bought in India. In that light, if we evaluate the XUV 500 commercial, it fails completely."

Dabas adds, "There is clearly a desperate attempt to attract male eyeballs through showing semi-naked raunchy women. So, may be it could have worked as a male deodorant commercial but I don't think it manages to sell an SUV to its target audience."

According to Dabas, 'May your life be full of stories' could have been an interesting take though the same plot has been seen in the recent VW Touraeg commercial, too. He further adds that 'tough men and their real stories' should have been the execution, rather than the male fantasy zone used by deodorants.

First Published : February 14, 2012
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