Anushree Bhattacharyya

Honda: Riding on dreams

Based on three pillars of thought - communicating, connecting and creating, the new positioning, 'Sach kar denge sapne', is Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India's way of telling the Indian consumers that it has arrived.

After living under the shadow of one of the strongest two-wheeler brands (Hero Honda) as the other partner for about 25 years, it was time to find its own identity. Post-split, both the Hero Group and Honda Motorcycle had to re-write the same story all over again.

Honda: Riding on dreams
Based on its global positioning, 'The power of dreams', Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India has launched its new identity, 'Sach kar denge sapne'. The positioning focuses on how the two-wheeler brand acts as a medium for the common man and helps to fulfil his dreams - both big and small. For the two wheeler company, it was important to tell a story of its presence in India - which not only looked desi, but also told a tale that was close to the heart of many Indians.

The new positioning is based on three pillars of thoughts - communicating, connecting and creating. Therefore, Honda will communicate about its new brand value through various media. It will also focus to connect with the Indian consumer through different touch points and create products based on innovative technology. For example, the company recently launched Dream Yuga, its mass segment bike in the country.

Conceptualised by Dentsu Marcom, the television commercial (TVC) features actor Akshay Kumar sharing anecdotes on how the common man is always in a hurry to achieve his goals and from morning till late evening, strives to fulfil dreams. He says that he, too, ran after his dreams, and all that is required to turn the dreams into reality is speed, where Honda Motorcycle plays a role. The TVC ends with the message 'Sach kar denge sapne'.

Honda: Riding on dreams
Honda: Riding on dreams
Yatvinder S Guleria, vice-president, sales and marketing, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, explains, "The year 2012 is a very significant year for Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India. This year, we are embarking on a new journey (since its split with the Hero Group, formerly known as Hero Honda). While globally Honda is respected and known for its quality of innovation, in India people are yet to get a glimpse of the brand properly."

Guleria further explains that the new positioning, 'Sach kar denge sapne', is based on the global positioning of the brand, 'The power of dreams'. "As we're going to talk to the Indian consumer as Honda for the first time, we wanted to showcase how, through our products, we will partner the common man to realise his dreams. Therefore, it was important to have home-grown positioning," he adds.

Interestingly, this is the first time that the two wheeler company has roped in a brand ambassador, Akshay Kumar. "For the campaign we decided to take a rational and emotional route. With the launch of the Dream Yuga, which targeted the mass section, apart from strengthening our network and dealership outlets, we were able to take the rational route. And to strike the right emotional chord, we used popular celebrity Akshay Kumar," reasons Guleria.

Titus Upputuru, national creative director, Dentsu Marcom, says, "It is for the first time that Honda is the only Honda in India. The brand needed to come out of the shadows of a global brand iconography. It needed to have a chat with India. It needed to say hello to India. And, as we thought of ideas, we thought that the brand actually connects with India, every single morning. As people rush out of their homes in the mornings and get on to the roads, they get on their Honda motorcycles and scooters and that's where the brand story came in. By capturing rush hour, we wanted to say that Honda gives wind beneath the wings to help everyone reach their destinations. It was amazing to go across different cities and actually shoot the morning rush hour and capture the human wave that took to the roads every single day."

Honda has also launched a print campaign titled 'Slice of life with Honda'. It also plans to launch out of home and digital campaigns.

Making a statement

According to advertising experts, while the commercial is well shot and executed, it lacks freshness in terms of concept.

Honda: Riding on dreams
Honda: Riding on dreams
Rahul Jauhari, national creative director, Everest Brand Solutions, says, "I was hoping Honda would aim for a voice that is distinct, maybe international. If I pitch this against a 'Hum Mein Hai Hero', well I'd say Hero has stolen a huge lead in sheer brand empathy terms. This seems an effort to do a 'Hero', and not do it well. However much you try, it will end up being a weaker Hero."

According to him, while the commercial is well shot, there are no surprising or memorable moments. "Nothing jumps out at you. And, Akshay Kumar says so much that you remember very little. The bit about kilos of dreams and 'atthani bhar time', I guess that's the only bit of voiceover (VO) I remembered. Did they need Akshay Kumar? You can argue that his personal and professional life story is about a dream come true. But somehow, Akshay suits jumping off buildings. This seemed too heavy for him," he adds.

Sujith Sudhakaran, general manager, strategic planning, Draftfcb Ulka, remarks, "The intent definitely here is to tell the Indian consumer that 'we have arrived' and this commercial to my mind is a small part of it. The actual test is the share of road the models would garner. It has a presence in the market but omnipresence is still some distance away."

The TVC is based on the global positioning 'The power of dreams', only here with an Indian rendition. Does this make the brand look desperate in its attempt to woo the Indian consumer? Sudhakaran replies, "If one was to just look at it without analysing it much, then it has some 'bring a smile on your face' moments, but yes it seems the brand also wants to do its own version of India as the other key competitors probably do better on that aspect."

He further opines that Akshay Kumar was not required to be featured. "From what we see in this TVC, he was definitely not needed. Maybe the brand has other plans with him, but it is a definite no for this commercial," he observes.