Why Mullen Lintas decided to recycle a decade-old ad

By Suraj Ramnath and Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | March 02, 2016
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Bajaj Avenger says, "Feel like God," once again. The catchphrase is R Balki's baby from over 10 years back.

Remember the biker who forgave his barber for nipping his skin? He is back. This time around, he's scoffing at corporate slaves, while riding the recently re-launched Bajaj Avenger.

A quick look at why Mullen Lintas decided to recycle a 10-year-old ad film.

Bajaj Avenger - Feel Like God old ad

What are the pros and cons of recycling an old creative property? Shriram Iyer, national creative director, Mullen Lintas, says, "We don't look at it as 'recycling'. Why re-invent something that is perfectly working?"

Bajaj Avenger - Feel Like God new ad

What he and his team did, instead, is "re-interpret it as 'Feel Like God, for today'," he says, referencing the rat race angle in the current film. While in the old ad the protagonist forgives the people who've wronged him, the new one scoffs at corporate slaves.

Bajaj Avenger 200 CC ad

Sumeet Narang

Shriram Iyer

Ayyappan Raj

"The film," Iyer tells us, "is a comment on how most people are stuck in the rat race and how the experience of riding an Avenger is not a part of chasing corporate ambition. The rider has risen above it; he is someone who is closer to nature. That interpretation still works for the line 'Feel Like God'. Today, the bike is different, but the attitude really never changed. 'Feel Like God' is a good idea for Avenger to live with. So we didn't see the need to come up with a new concept."

About the minor tweaks, he says, "When you rise above material ambition, you feel like God... that's a clear re-interpretation. We didn't necessarily need to carry forward more than we needed to..."

The ad film will be aired on digital media (longer cut), followed by TV (45, and later, 30-second TVCs).

Sumeet Narang, vice-president - marketing, Bajaj Auto, says, "Our brief to Mullen Lintas was to dramatise (the) sense of liberation but with a context to daily life..."

Bajaj recently launched three new variants of the Avenger - Cruise 220, Street 220 and Street 150. Narang's consumer research suggests that the bikes are a "big draw" among "hard-working young professionals."

"Our interactions with customers revealed their love for weekend escape trips on Avenger. Several Avenger riding communities have also come up..." he says.

Ayyappan Raj, executive vice-president, Mullen Lintas, Mumbai, says, "... we have approached the entire campaign more like a lifestyle brand and not a typical two-wheeler brand..."

Old versus new

K S Chakravarthy

K V Sridhar

K S Chakravarthy, chief creative officer, Liqvd Asia, a digital and social media marketing company, says, "I like this ad very much. It's unfair to compare the two; the first was bold and path-breaking then... the new one is a very good progression. Having established a wonderful property like FLG (acronym for Feel Like God), the whole rat race angle brings the attitude closer to the here and now. What's the use of feeling like God, if there is no one to feel vastly superior to? Great stuff, pretty nicely done. It's not very easy to shoot a bunch of rats aesthetically."

K V Sridhar (Pops), chief creative officer, Sapient Nitro, an interactive marketing, creative design and technology services agency, gives the new ad a six on ten. While that's a good score in isolation, the ad, he insists, pales in comparison to the old one. "The new ad is nice. The trouble starts when we compare this with the old one... ," he says.

And, when he does compare the two, what happens? "Forgiving his boss, his girlfriend, the government, and his barber, made it a cult film," Pops says about the old ad, adding, "I know a lot of people who joined advertising because of that film. I had just joined Leo Burnett from Lintas and when I saw this ad, I called up R Balki and said, 'This is fabulous'. It was an iconic commercial."

In comparison, the new ad appears to be trying too hard, he feels. However, Pops goes on to tell us that strategically the current film appears to be sound, as it addresses the start-up generation, one that shuns the corporate rat race in a bid to go solo.

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