Devina Joshi

Hero's story takes the anthem route with AR Rahman

To mark the launch of its new corporate brand avatar, Hero MotoCorp has launched a communication created by Law & Kenneth that makes use of the statement, 'Hum Mein Hai Hero'.

In what is one of the largest rebranding efforts in recent times, two wheeler brand Hero MotoCorp -- the new avatar of Hero post its split with Honda -- has unveiled an advertising campaign positioned around the thought 'Hum Mein Hai Hero'. The campaign, created by Law & Kenneth and released on India's Independence Day (August 15), has stories of individuals in India who conquer what seem to be impossibilities, to unearth the hero within themselves.

Hero's story takes the anthem route with AR Rahman
Towards the end, the voiceover concludes that Hero continues to make Indians proud of their individuality, and that brand Hero Honda is now christened Hero.

Anil S Nair, chief executive officer and managing partner, Law & Kenneth, says, "We had to marry the legacy of the brand's past, with the future plans at Hero MotoCorp. The tonality of communication has shifted from collectivism to individualism."

By this he means that 'Desh Ki Dhadkan', what Hero Honda rode on all these years, was about a whole set of Indians collectively, while 'Hum Mein Hai Hero' is more about every Indian finding his individuality, his sense of self. And, the brand connect arrives in the form of Hero finding its own individuality sans the Honda expertise.

Hero's story takes the anthem route with AR Rahman
The campaign is also spurred on by the fact that Hero MotoCorp soon plans to be a global entity, representing India in various countries. "This is an attempt to allow consumers to co-create the brand, unlike other rebranding attempts that have the consumer in 'awe' of the brand," adds Nair. Here, the idea is to get the brand to be at par with the consumer and capture the real emotions of people, instead of having slick stories. Therefore, real people instead of actors have been selected in the execution of the film, such as a real-life gymnast girl, or a boy who is actually a dancer.

The 120-second film has been directed by Anurag Kashyap and Robby Grewal, and produced by Red Ice Productions, while the anthem has been composed by A R Rahman.

The communication is based on an emotion, rather than a product proposition. Rahul Nangia, creative director, Law & Kenneth, adds that when faced with the brief of Hero launching on its own steam minus Honda, it was wise to go with 'consumer' stories (of their connection with the brand over the last three decades or so), rather than a larger-than-life brand story.

"The idea is to reflect big and small challenges that we overcome every day, without even realising that we are doing something extraordinary." Here, the role of the brand will be to 'catapult' -- a partner to help people achieve that self-belief.

The media mix for this rebranding exercise includes television, press, radio, outdoor, digital media (including social networking) and soon, user-generated content.

Heroic enough?

Hero's story takes the anthem route with AR Rahman
Hero's story takes the anthem route with AR Rahman
The commercial is largely well-received by the ad industry folk. Samit Sinha, managing partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, gives a spin to the whole affair when he says that there are two elements to an effective branding strategy -- uniqueness and relevance. "I would score it low on the former, but high on the latter," he says.

Elaborating on the first one, he says, "This seems to be a variation of its erstwhile 'Desh Ki Dhadkan' theme, which by itself was very close to the Hamara Bajaj campaign of the late 80s/early 90s, which apparently was 'inspired' by Chevrolet's 'The Heartbeat of America' campaign that was running roughly around the same time in the US. So, as far as the theme is concerned, one has been there, done that."

Secondly, he says that the twist in the theme is an indication of 'there's a hero in all of us', as exemplified by small acts of heroism by millions of ordinary Indians in their day-to-day lives. "It is relevant as it attempts to connect the brand name 'Hero' to the lives of ordinary Indians, without stretching credibility or indulging in overt machismo, which has never been the brand's territory," Sinha adds.

Jitender Dabas, vice-president and head, planning, McCann Erickson, remarks, "I like the expression 'Hum Mein Hai Hero'. It is strategically a correct chord to strike with the India of today."

Dabas further feels that for an Indian company with ambitions to become a multinational, it can create the right sense of pride amongst both external, as well as internal stakeholders. He also feels that the thought has a huge potential that can be explored across all the different platforms (such as cricket and music) of Hero MotoCorp's presence.

"Also, for a two wheeler brand, the line stokes the spirit of 'hero' in the rider, which is the most potent emotional space in a predominantly masculinity-driven category," he further explains, "And, the execution does lend scale to the thought, while A R Rahman's composition adds to the stature."