Saumya Tewari

Hero Xtreme: Balancing Act

The latest campaign from Hero Motocorp for its new bike, Hero Xtreme, takes the adventure element to city roads giving it a youthful 'mass appeal'.

If you thought adventure or living off the edge meant pulling off some jaw-dropping stunts on a bike or riding on rugged terrain, think again. The latest campaign from Hero Motocorp (maker of the 150 cc Hero Xtreme, a face-lifted version of its predecessor CBZ Xtreme) suggests that once you own and ride Xtreme, adventure becomes a part of the life.

Hero Xtreme: Balancing Act
Executed by JWT, the 45-seconder kick-starts with a young man (in his early 20s) jumping out of bed as an alarm clock goes off in the background. Dressed casually in shorts and tee, he hurriedly puts on his shoes and kicks the bike to life. Riding away, he balances himself cleverly and manages to pull on a pair of trousers and a shirt. At this point, the viewer is made aware of the features of the bike (digital integrated console, sharp new headlights, LED tail lights and ATFT engine). He eventually gets to his destination - his girlfriend's house - but she says that she's not ready yet, to which the man replies, "You'll be". The next shot features the girl sitting behind him on the bike tying her boots.

Making the brand's "Live off the edge" proposition more relatable to the youth, JWT's creative brief was to create a communication that is edgy, yet fun. "The needle moved from exciting one-off stunts to a more everyday excitement and thrill around the brand and the user."

The campaign was shot in the suburbs of Mumbai and Pune to give it a 'city' feel. The edgy background score in the campaign seems to be inspired from Strange Talk's (an synthpop Australian band) song Cast Away. Apart from TV, it will be promoted on print, cinema, outdoor, POS (Point of Sale) and radio channels. Launched in April this year, Hero Xtreme was launched in the popular 150cc motorcycle segment in India. The new Xtreme remains mechanically identical to the outgoing model (CBZ Xtreme) and comes powered with the same 150cc, single cylinder, air-cooled engine that produces 14.4PS of maximum power and peak torque of 12.8Nm.

However, there are some design enhancements, including a new visor with 'high-brow' positioned pilot lamps, chrome accents on the matt-black exhaust, gas-charged rear shocks, re-profiled LED tail lamp and wider rear tyre. The Hero Xtreme also has some additional features like a redesigned instrument cluster sporting an analogue speedometer with integrated digital console, engine immobiliser, side-stand warning light and a segment-first underseat mobile charging socket.

There are two variants to choose from - the front-disc equipped model at Rs 66,515 ex-showroom Mumbai and the front- and rear-disc version priced at Rs 69,530 (ex-showroom Mumbai). In this segment, Hero Xtreme faces stiff competition from Honda CBR, Yamaha FZ-S (Fazer), Bajaj Pulsar and Suzuki Gixxer.

Edgy enough?

Hero Xtreme: Balancing Act
Hero Xtreme: Balancing Act
Experts seem divided on the execution and impact of the campaign, but they do agree that it will have impressive recall value. Akshay Chaturvedi, business head, Zigwheels agrees that the TVC commands attention when you see it for the first time. "Living off the edge is a great theme. However, getting dressed on the bike to save time is, perhaps, not the best suited for such a theme. The visuals and music are so overpowering that I am not too sure if the bike's features are registering with viewers," he says adding that the repeat value for this ad seems to be low.

He also rues the fact that the execution, according to him, can show the youth as "irresponsible". "The youth today are cool but not irresponsible. Since the ad picks up a theme almost broaching on being irresponsible, I feel that the connect looks a bit weak. It actually left me confused whether this TVC is a take on today's generation or a pointer to a bike that makes you so adventurous," he adds.

Divyapratap Mehta, former national planning director, Publicis Capital, finds that the 'drama' and 'appeal' will strike a chord with young consumers. He also notes that the EDM (electronic dance music) track adds to the edge element in the campaign. "The music, execution and the stunts are unreal but every boy at some stage dreams of being this cool dude on a bike in control of his stallion. It actually has some very classic male tones. I can almost imagine a brave young man in the 14th century doing the same act on a horse. This feels like the 2014 version of it," he asserts.

The TVC, he feels, has enough impact to attract consumers to the showroom. He, however, notes that more focus should have been on the bike's features instead of the rider and that the girl should have done her act naturally instead of saying it loud.

Chaturvedi notes that in the 150 cc space leadership has evaded Hero Motocorp, despite its range of products. Though this segment is not one that contributes to market volumes, it is an important and growing one. "While Bajaj has been the clear leader here, it has a strong challenger in Honda the erstwhile partner of Hero. Yamaha too has a portfolio that does well in this segment. So, Hero has its job clearly cut out as far as this segment is concerned," he asserts.

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