Who runs a truck?

By Shibani Gharat , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | May 23, 2012
Ashok Leyland, in its new TVC featuring Indian skipper M S Dhoni, introduces the proposition that every member involved in the journey of its vehicles is crucial, from the manufacturer to the fleet owner, driver and mechanic, too.

Who drives a truck? Not only the driver, apparently. Commercial vehicles manufacturer Ashok Leyland, in its new television commercial, emphasises that all the members of the system play a part in driving the vehicle (read business).

In the first-ever association with a celebrity endorser in more than six decades, Ashok Leyland, the flagship commercial vehicle major of the Hinduja Group, has roped in cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni as its brand ambassador.

The TVC, created by Contract Advertising, opens on a typical roadside 'Dhaba', where three people at a table are having an argument over a glass of 'Lassi'. M S Dhoni enters and proposes to share the glass, referring to how they play an equally important role in every aspect of the company business. Interestingly, in this case, the three members on the table are a truck driver, a fleet owner and a mechanic, and Dhoni plays the part of an employee of the company.

Rohit Srivastava

The whole idea of the TVC is to communicate that 'Because you win, we win' to each and every member of the commercial vehicle business. "It is true that the ecosystem cannot function without the other members in the ecosystem. It is the best supporting infrastructure that we can create," says Rohit Srivastava, head, core consulting and national head, strategic planning, Contract Advertising.

Apparently, the company has also created services that include repair service and fleet management service, which work hand-in-hand with the commercial vehicle manufacturing business.

Srivastava says that there were two things that they strongly wanted to communicate. "The first one being that we can win only if you win. The second was that we are going into the trenches with them."

On Dhoni being a part of the TVC, Srivastava says that the Indian captain comes across as a person who is very rooted. "His whole approach is 'I will put my team before me'. This is the kind of philosophy we were looking at and Dhoni embodies it."

Alok Saraogi, head, branding and marketing communications, Ashok Leyland says that the whole point of the TVC was to humanise the business. "We are reaching out to the businesses with empathy, respect and humility, hence saying that your contribution is important to us. We also aim to create a relationship of equality."

The TVC targets the business fraternity. Also, Ashok Leyland wants to break away from the label of being a 'South Indian truck company'. "We are a pan-India company, wrongly painted as a South Indian company for too long," adds Saraogi.

On opting for the television medium instead of the regular below-the-line advertising, Saraogi says, "We wanted to break the long silence and use a human (mass medium) to reach out to the length and breadth of the country."

The TVC will be backed by an aggressive multi-media campaign across all markets. But, most of the spend will be channelled to TV.

Will it roll?

Santosh Padhi

Satbir Singh

The industry insiders have serious qualms about the effectiveness of the TVC. Santosh Padhi, chief creative officer and co-founder, Taproot India, says, "Apart from the main player Dhoni, there has to be an idea. Only one player cannot win a match. There has to be a team of the protagonist, the concept, the creative and effective execution that work hand in hand towards the success of a TVC. Yes, Dhoni will bring the recall but the rest of the players are not up to the mark."

Padhi feels that one can make all the elements of the automotive ecosystem happy but the creative product lacks entertainment value. "The strategy was good to get the four important members in the commercial vehicle category together, in one frame. But, the idea of sharing is done to death. They could have done it in a refreshing manner. There have been a lot of commercials made in the past with the concept of sharing as a premise."

Padhi adds that if the attempt aims to reach out to a pan India audience by showing a Sardar, a Gujarati and others, the attempt has not come out clearly. "The TVC does not have a re-watchable value," he concludes.

Satbir Singh, managing partner and chief creative officer, Euro RSCG India agrees on the premise that the whole transport system in India works as an ecosystem. "The TVC becomes a little bit more memorable because of Dhoni. I also feel that the idea to get Dhoni on board for the pan-India reach is apt because he does have a nationwide following. This move will help the brand reach out to the northern belt, where one is mostly used to seeing Tata or AMCO vehicles."

Singh feels that the agency has done a good job with the light hearted play between the characters. "But, when I saw the Dhaba set-up, with Lassi being shared for the first time, I thought it would be one of the engine oil commercials," he adds.

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