Ashwini Gangal

Nissan Micra: Tough manoeuvre

Nissan's new film for the Micra introduces new product features and attempts to position it as a tough car.

One doesn't typically associate hatchbacks with aggression, but trying hard at aggression is Nissan Micra in its latest film.

Nissan Micra: Tough manoeuvre
Nissan Micra: Tough manoeuvre
Nissan Micra: Tough manoeuvre
Called 'Tag on Wheels', the film shows four Micras playing a game of tag on the streets of Jaisalmer, showing off the car's manoeuvrability. Towards the end, a voiceover says, 'The New Nissan Micra. Play Hard' as the same words appear on the screen.

The objective is to showcase the recently re-launched version of Micra which has new features such as the Continuously Variable Transmission (or CVT) gearbox, LED taillights, reverse parking camera, piano black finish console and Bluetooth connectivity. All these changes help reposition the Micra as a more aggressive and tough hatchback.

According to Nitish Tipnis, director, sales and marketing, Hover Automotive India, the campaign aims to give the Micra "a sporty and macho stance" (something the earlier version of the car arguably lacked).

Parixit Bhattacharya, chief creative officer, TBWA India (the agency that has created this campaign), hopes that the ad will get people to re-evaluate the Micra. "Earlier, purely going by the way it looked, Micra, with its 'soft' exteriors, was perceived as a 'cutesy' car," he says. This dissuaded a lot of prospective buyers because they didn't feel confident it could handle a long-distance, intercity drive.

"The new version looks more masculine, virile and aggressive. It has been modified to be a fitting answer for the 'non-roads' of India. And, we have added a fair bit of steroids to hatchback advertising! It'll force people to reassess the car," he says. Micra is targeted at hatchback consumers in the B and B+ segments.

Jaisalmer was selected as the best location to shoot this film not just for its grandeur and beauty but also for its topography -- the city has roads without tarmac, winding by-lanes in the fort areas and narrow cobble-stoned lanes that lend a big breadth of driving surface options. The film was shot over three days.

It was a conscious decision not to feature brand ambassador Ranbir Kapoor in the film as the agency was keen to keep the car at the centre of viewer attention. This is probably why there isn't any sort of character building attempted around the youngsters driving the cars, either.

Besides TV, the media mix includes print and digital.

Hard hit?

The picturesque locales seem to have impressed our reviewers. Here's what they said about the other aspects.

Nissan Micra: Tough manoeuvre
Nissan Micra: Tough manoeuvre
Anupama Ramaswamy, group creative director, Cheil India, calls it one of the "nicer looking auto ads." She goes on, "The music is cute; it's the reason the ad gets noticed. And, the contrast of the speed with the soundtrack makes it a watchable commercial."

However, Ramaswamy goes on to critique the 'tag' idea, saying nothing can compare to the Nike Tag ad. "After Nike Tag, everything looks like a cheap version of one of the most amazing ideas Nike had thrown at us. It was playful, spontaneous and pushed the concept of 'urban athleticism'. So anything based on that seems like a bit of a let-down," she explains.

Will it make consumers re-assess the Micra, though? "We, as ad people, remember Nike, but consumers will definitely find this to be a cool and sporty commercial -- I wouldn't call it macho or aggressive. In the segment in which it operates, where functional, 'value for money' propositions are more obvious choices, this will stick out," she grants.

Dheeraj Sinha, chief strategy officer, Grey, South and Southeast Asia, notices that the ad is a departure from its previous feature-and-celebrity driven communication. For him, it's the idea of playing tag that takes precedence. "I guess it brings out the agility and fun factor of the car," he explains, adding, "I personally didn't register too many features, I was busy following the chase, and all the India-kitsch elements that were thrown in."

Sinha opines it's a "visually arresting, well shot ad." Though personally, he is not a big fan of using international models for products targeted at Indians (he feels, as a nation, we are over that complex!), the ad certainly gave him what he calls a romantic view of India through a foreigner's eye.

"I don't know if that's intentional or whether that's what India wants to see today, but the ad certainly frames Micra in a slick and stylish context," Sinha concludes.

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