Neha Kalra

Don’t dare the masculinity of Maruti SX4

Maruti SX4, which was launched in August last year, has come out with a new TVC

Sporty, muscular and dynamic. Well, we aren’t counting the qualities a man could possess, but those of the Maruti SX4, which is positioned as the 'Man Amongst Cars'.

The second television commercial for the brand has been unleashed. Whereas most automobile ads boast of the car's features/physical aspects in an overt manner, this one communicates what it wishes to more subtly.

The film depicts an SX4 and a truck driving on a road, one behind the other. The truck driver seems to get restless and starts honking frantically. The mature SX4 man is ready to give way, but the truck driver is in a mood to mess. After being pushed around too much, the ‘man’ definitely knows how to set things straight, and does so well. With a filmy ending to the film, the two 'men' (one being the Maruti SX4) shoo away the truck.

Don’t dare the masculinity of Maruti SX4
The creative duties for the brand are being handled by Lowe, Delhi and the team behind the film is Anand Suspi, creative head, Lowe, Delhi and R Balakrishnan (fondly known as Balki), chairman and national creative director, Lowe India. The TVC first ran during the fourth and sixth India vs Sri Lanka ODIs that took place recently, and is to go on air on all other channels soon.

Talking to afaqs!, Suspi says, “Since the time the brand has stepped into the market, it has embarked upon a macho positioning. The brief was simple – the work should be a take out that the SX4 is truly the man amongst cars.” The final script was arrived at after three months and five to six changed scripts.

Don’t dare the masculinity of Maruti SX4
Anand Suspi
Don’t dare the masculinity of Maruti SX4
Sanjeev Handa
Sanjeev Handa, director general, marketing, Maruti Suzuki India, says, “A true male identity is about how a man talks, the way he stands and the likes. The SX4 is the tallest and longest car in its category, thus, giving it a very masculine feel; making it a feminine car wouldn't ring in the consumer's ears. Clearly positioned as a performance car, it has category defining features.”

The Maruti SX4 was launched in August last year. The first TVC which was released following the launch, showed women wondering about men making a disappearing act, when the SX4 comes to the rescue of 'men'kind. In the first takeoff, the brand had been positioned as the man amongst cars, and the second one takes a step further in the same direction.

Indian ad men discuss the ad with afaqs!. Parveez Shaikh, senior vice-president and executive creative director, M&C Saatchi, Mumbai gives a thumbs-up to the ad. “The brand idea – ‘Men are Back’, doesn't allow one to communicate about the looks or technology. It goes beyond communicating simply about the rational benefits of the product. It's like the Tata Safari tagline, ‘Reclaim your Life!’, which has an emotional connect and is a broad-based idea. A rugged feel, the film is not simply about pretty shots of the car being driven, unlike most car commercials that are usually montages of pretty shots of the cars. It's quite different from the forgettable car commercials you see on TV these days. It's nicely executed and it takes the brand idea of a manly car forward quite well. It’s very watchable.”

Ajay Gahlaut, group creative director, O&M, Delhi, says, “The Maruti SX4 ad is well shot. It does add value to the brand's positioning of the masculine car. Personally, though, I would have enjoyed it more if the film had highlighted a subtler aspect of masculinity instead of mere machismo, somewhat like the Imperial Blue 'Men will be Men' films. I believe that would have led to more engaging communication. Having said that, the current film has a simple story, is quite watchable and makes its point without resorting to irritating supers like 'maximum fuel efficiency in its class' etc. All in all, a decent job.”

Don’t dare the masculinity of Maruti SX4
Parveez Shaikh
Don’t dare the masculinity of Maruti SX4
Ajay Gahlaut
Don’t dare the masculinity of Maruti SX4
Mani Jayaram
Mani Jayaram, vice-president, creative, Euro RSCG, Delhi, dislikes the film outright. “Given the clutter in the category, this ad will not create any waves. Nothing earth shattering has been done in the field of automobile advertising in India; foreign countries are way ahead. In India, it is all about the technology and physical aspects of a car. If I remove the SX4 and place any other car in place of it in the film, would it matter? No. And that's what the problem is – it is replaceable, which it shouldn't be. I feel that if the brand wishes to differentiate, they have to either say something different, or at least, say a particular thing differently (have a different story to tell) – this film does neither. A car can have any gender, but with a positioning such as the ‘Man Amongst Cars’, the ad has changed the gender of all the cars of the universe. Since it is a nice looking executive car, it would have helped to find an insight which an executive would relate to, and from there on create an ad.”

The film draws inspiration from Steven Spielberg's Duel. “There is a difference between a youngster and a man. The 'biker' audience is a much younger one; in this one, the man is shown behaving in a mature manner – the man cannot come through as a reckless bravado,” says Suspi.

The most critical thing was that the truck was to look really mean and monstrous, reveals Suspi. The agency was considering shooting the film abroad due to the terrain; and also due to the fact that one doesn't find the kind of trucks they needed for the film. But, it turned out otherwise. The ad was shot in Jaisalmer; a Tata truck was utilised, the face of which was fabricated using acrylic material. The truck was ready in five days.

Pre-production took up about two weeks, the film was shot in three days and post production took another four days. The film has been shot by Mumbai based Chrome Pictures and directed by Amit Sharma; Hemant Bhandari is the producer and Amit Roy is the cinematographer. The music has been given by Samiruddin.

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