The popularity of television's comedy king, Kapil Sharma, on the digital medium is well documented. Sharma is a digital success story himself with more fans than many leading Bollywood stars. At last count, it was over 11 million.
Sharma plays salesman in the four-part digital ad series, trying to sell the car to four different kinds of consumers. In the first ad film, he is seen selling the car to a female customer who comes to the showroom, accompanied by her mother. While her mother is talking over the phone and telling the girl about a prospective guy, Sharma woos the girl in his own style. In the process, he highlights the various features of the car - like space (it is a seven-seater) and how it is suitable for the family and is fuel-efficient as well.
The brand plans to roll out one film every week, to lead up to the launch of Honda Mobilio in July. This is the first time that Honda has rolled out a marketing campaign that banks heavily on the digital medium in the first leg. According to Shakeel Anjum, head - Brand Communications, Honda, all the studies done by the company revealed that today the first search point, so to say, is coming from digital. "Anybody in the market who is planning to buy a car is looking for information on this medium. While there will be a mass media campaign during the launch of the car, we wanted to go digital in a more focused manner at an early stage."
The core target audience of Honda Mobilio is the 35-plus male businessman. As for the TG's lifestyle, he should be from a business family or in a family that is staying together and who have a need to travel together. Honda is positioning Mobilio as a family vehicle that is also stylish. The company's intensive research revealed that there are also people who - despite living in nuclear families - need such cars as they travel with friends or family on weekends.
Sharma, according to Anjum, was the perfect fit. "Kapil is popular across genders, age-groups and even within families. He cuts across genres, male-female preferences, family entertainment, and this is what the car is all about. He has projected the car in a more entertaining and interesting manner, which is something we are trying for the first time."
Since Honda doesn't believe in signing a brand ambassador as a policy, Sharma was roped in more as an artiste and a popular personality. Sharma, who owns a Honda Civic and a Honda City, is quite excited about his first brand association. "It is a reputed brand and I feel honoured to be associated with them. It's a very affordable car for a middle-class family and - in comparison to other seven-seaters - it is cheaper."
For Sharma, shooting the ad has been a different experience. "In the show we are used to working with multiple cameras. But here there are cut-to-cut shots that are being taken. This is one of those ads that have an interesting storyline with a humour element attached to it. The features of the car are also communicated at the same time."
According to figures shared by the company, there are around 90 lakh online searches for Kapil Sharma in a month. The video that has already gone viral will be promoted extensively by Honda's agency. Talking about the idea of launching one ad film every week, Kumar Deb Sinha, digital content lead - Mash Up explains, "We believe it has to be sustainable engagement. Just one ad film is a typical way of advertising on TV. On digital, once you have seen the video, you won't want to see it again. So the smartness is in getting fresh content, if not daily then weekly."
Within 24 hours of the launch of the video on YouTube, it received 150,000 views. Both Honda and Sharma had shared the links on their respective Facebook and Twitter pages as it started going viral instantly. There have been around 4,000 video shares from Sharma's FB page as well.
Sinha of Mash Up says that a selfie contest too has been launched. Since the Honda Mobilio's on-ground activities involve showcasing it in malls in Delhi, Mumbai and 15 other cities, people can post their selfies to win the 'Win a Mobilio' contest. The second digital ad film will showcase Sharma with his on-screen wife Sumona Chakravarti (they play a couple in Comedy Nights with Kapil).
In addition to digital and on-ground, Honda will release a television commercial during the launch. The TVC will be aired across news, general entertainment, sports and regional channels. It will be dubbed in eight different languages including Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati and Punjabi. There will also be print insertions across newspapers in 15 languages.
Honda is well on its way to mobilise everything it has got to make sure that the Mobilio takes off.
Reportedly, Honda Mobilio will fall in the price range of Rs 6 lakh to 9 lakh.