Sumita Vaid
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Maruti unveils Grand Vitara XL-7; Rs 8-9 crore ad campaign to break soon

The advertising campaign will break in a phased manner, beginning with print, and then go on television

At a press ceremony in New Delhi yesterday, Maruti Udyog launched its much awaited sports utility vehicle, the Grand Vitara. With a 2.7 litre V6 engine, the Grand Vitara is being offered in two variants. While the standard edition is priced at Rs 15.9 lakh (Chevrolet Forester, is priced at Rs 15.59 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi), the limited edition wears a price tag of Rs 16.7 lakh (both prices ex-showroom, Delhi).

To begin with, the Grand Vitara will be imported as a completely built unit from Japan (Suzuki Motor Corporation). So far 50 units have been shipped in. However, since the vehicle is designed for an exclusive set of people, it will be offered in limited numbers, explain company executives. Which is why, Maruti has embarked on an experimental marketing strategy to promote the Grand Vitara.

Rather than displaying the SUV at the various Maruti dealer outlets, the Grand Vitara will be displayed in the plush ambience of five star hotels. The process has already begun. Maruti dealers in three metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore have identified their ‘elite' customer base and are organising parties to preview the car. Maruti authorities claim, the response from prospective consumers has been overwhelming.

While, company officials did not disclose the amount being spent on this exercise, agencyfaqs! has learnt the company has sunk an estimated Rs 8-9 crore for the ad campaign devised by agency Contract Advertising. The campaign will break in a phased manner, beginning with print, and then go on television.

Talking about the positioning of the Grand Vitara, Ravi G Bhatia, general manager marketing, Maruti Udyog, said, "The Grand Vitara XL-7 is meant only for those customers who, while being able to afford it, also value its prestige, status and the distinctive styling. It is for the select few who have the means, and the taste, to ‘Live the Grand Life'." Therefore, the communication aims to position the Grand Vitara as a combination of an off-roader as well as a city drive.

Clearly, the job at hand for Maruti is to grow the SUV market and grab a sizeable share. To what extent the combination of direct marketing and top line advertising will influence the Indian consumer is yet to seen. With the Chevrolet Forester already in the market, Hyundai Terracan waiting in the wings, and the dispassionate attitude (at least till now) of Indians towards SUVs, the task for the company and its agency is not going to be easy. © 2003 agencyfaqs!