"We intentionally kept the spotlight away from our motorcycles": Royal Enfield on the new ad by W+K

By Sankalp Dikshit , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital
Last updated : July 13, 2017
Through a new spot, the brand is looking to promote its protective gear.

Picturesque landscape, virgin locations, dramatic background score and breath taking cinematography - that is Royal Enfield's new ad in a nutshell. The Chennai based motorcycle brand has released a new ad film for its protective riding gear.

The ad film which hinges upon the tagline, 'All Weather. All Terrain Gear', is shot across different locations in India. Starting from Darjeeling's swampy areas of Lebong Valley to Maharashtra's muddy stretches of Hemalachi Tanda and finally concluding at Sikkim's chilly glaciers of Yumthang Valley, the ad takes inspiration from real riding experiences of Royal Enfield riders.

While reports are doing the rounds that Bajaj's new offering, Bajaj Dominar 400 has eaten away twenty percent of Royal Enfield's market share; Royal Enfield is unfazed. The new ad positions itself in a way to which many city based consumers might not relate. After all, not everyone is a weekend adventure enthusiast, are we? We asked Samrat Som, head, apparels and accessories, Royal Enfield, to better understand the brand's strategy which seems to be alienating a segment of consumers.

Samrat Som Samrat Som

He says, "Royal Enfield offers a range of protective as well as urban gear. The latter has a gamut of textile jackets, t-shirts, denims, etc. for the leisurely city runs, suited well for both on and off the motorcycle. While the protective gear on the other hand, befits a more challenging terrain and long riding distances where the rider will encounter many rough stretches, some places with no sight of even the tarmac, water crossings, temperatures ranging from 50 degrees to sub-zero, to downpours etc. So to answer your question, it was imperative for us to traverse authentic/real terrains and weather conditions to illustrate the idea of protective gear. Our range of jackets, trousers, gloves and boots allow the rider to pursue his adventures and explorations while we have him covered."

Speaking about the media plan for this ad film, Som tells us that the plan is focused on targeting involved customers (purists, adventure enthusiasts, motorcyclists) through video commercials on Youtube, Google, Facebook and Instagram. "These commercials are led by a sixty second film that helps establish the core idea of 'All Weather. All Terrain Gear' followed by multiple fifteen second videos to strengthen messaging recall through remarketing efforts," adds Som.

The ad which aims to advertise the brand's protective riding gear, strictly restricts itself to that. The motorcycle is kept on the back burner to focus attention on the riding gear. Som explains, "Our motorcycles enjoy a certain recall​ ​amongst riders. With this campaign, the focus was to build awareness for our Protective Gear offering and in many ways it was intentional that the spotlight doesn't go back to our motorcycles, thereby diluting the task at hand. On our motorcycles, we end up going to some of the coldest, driest, muddiest, warmest and most humid places on earth. This time it's the gear that has you covered."

The ad has been crafted and conceptualised by Wieden+Kennedy India. Speaking about the toughest part behind shooting this ad, Jonathan George, creative director, Wieden+Kennedy India, tells afaqs!, "We intentionally chose places that were tough to get to and tough to ride in. Places that really put our gear to the test. Places that Royal Enfield riders would enjoy - other-worldly, out of most people's ambit, unforgiving and as a result, more satisfying. This of course, meant trudging through knee-deep snow at 3 am, dealing with 50 degrees temperature at one in the afternoon, endlessly clambering up and down the Himalayas and making our way through the back of beyond in Maharashtra. A very tiring, unsettling task."

"Authenticity was crucial. This is what almost all Royal Enfield riders inevitably hope to do with their motorcycles. The locations had to say "Hey, you haven't been here yet" and entice people to ride a little more. Hopefully they'll see the sense of being well-kitted out and equipped while they're at it.", adds George.

Roaring thunder or an advertising blunder?

In recent times, there have been several ads that feature rocky terrains, expansive mountain ranges and awe-inspiring landscapes. Take for instance the recent ad by Shell for its lubricant oils or the 'Bajaj Avengers' ad campaign; even the award winning campaign of HP Lubricants (Roads that Honk) - all have a similar backdrop in their films. So just like that, a question comes to mind, how does one ensure brand recall when all these ads look and feel the same?

Throughout the one and a half minute long ad, the logo of Royal Enfield makes a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance. In today's day and age, where ads are screaming brand names, is there room for subtle branding?

Subtle branding strategy opted by Royal Enfield in its new ad film Subtle branding strategy opted by Royal Enfield in its new ad film

Kartik Smetacek, executive creative director, Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi, tells afaqs!, "While it's true that several ads today feature similar imagery, no one has a more rightful claim to it than the Royal Enfield brand. Of course, simply showcasing beautiful vistas could get repetitive over time, however it is for the idea and execution to add freshness to each ad. In an age of 5 seconds and skip, the video kept me watching till the end. The sheer scale and drama of the visuals punctuated with only SFX and sparse percussion sets it apart from other ads."

Kartik Smetacek Kartik Smetacek

Utkarsh Singh Payal Utkarsh Singh Payal

Smetacek adds, "The ad firmly fits in the Royal Enfield brand world. Every aspect of the video, from the locations to the realistic way it's been shot, points to brand. In my opinion, that is better brand connect than multiple shots of the logo. Also, I think it makes sense that they didn't focus on the bikes too much, making it clear that this is an ad for Royal Enfield gear."

Appreciating the ad's background score, Utkarsh Singh Payal, creative director, Bottle Openers, tells afaqs!, "... as the bike rolls through the slush and the water, the subtle thump, the sparse drum beats, there are no sunshiny, mood-uplifting alt rock songs. Just raw, natural sounds as you hear them while you're riding. It all came together nicely."

Agreeing with Smetacek, Payal adds, "When a Royal Enfield cruises across the road, people notice (even without that annoying non-stock firecracker silencer). I think the brand has to be respected for the fact that it never shouts out - it just lets the product (whether the bike or the gear) look romantic in its natural setting. They can do that probably because they have transcended from being just a brand, with its positioning or features and all that jazz, into a lifestyle. A lifestyle is not something you need recall for. You simply need to help people feel it."

A quick look at some of the ads released by Royal Enfield in the past -

Agency Credits
Director: Jonathan George
Executive Creative Directors: Kim Papworth, Shuchi Thakur, Molona Wati Longchar
Creative Directors: Jonathan George and Samarjit Bhattacharya
Account Director: Abhinav Deodhar
Account Manager: Abhishek Advani, Dhruv Nigam
Producer: Deepti Jha
Director of Photography: Satchith Paulose

First Published : July 13, 2017
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