Conceptually, the ads remind us of the old 'Neighbour's envy - owner's pride' theme.
Typically, car ads are all about sleek product shots, still and in motion. In a noteworthy departure from category codes, Skoda Octavia has recently launched a TV-led campaign that highlights a slew of product features (panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, fatigue-alert and hands-free parking) through conversion, not visuals.
In both ads, the bitter envy of SUV owners is highlighted. The campaign objective is to position Skoda Octavia, a sedan, as a much better option.
Talking about the reason for going easy on the 'product demo' - in this case, car shots taken from different camera angles - and focusing, instead, on verbal communication, Tarun Jha, head of marketing and product, Skoda Auto India, says, "It is always good to experiment and do something different and we are bold enough to do it. This one doesn't follow the norms. We are focusing on our customers, the ones who buy our cars. It comes from a deeper insight into who these Octavia customers are. So it speaks to them in their language. That's why, we went for a different kind of automobile advertising. Most of the time it's all about romancing the car."
Jha adds, "Octavia has been in the market for a long time and is a well-known car. It has been our flagship car and has built our reputation in the country and globally. Octavia is our best-seller, so we don't have to establish the credentials of the car so much."
The core TG for the brand comprises men in the 30-45 year bracket, from metros and second level metros, who like technology, understand finesse and are passionate car owners who buy cars for themselves and not to show off.
The TVC will be present across entertainment, infotainment, sports and regional news channels. The brand is currently also advertising on out-of-home channels.
About the campaign, Bobby Pawar, MD and CCO, Publicis South Asia, says, "The whole idea is based on the regrets that people who have bought some other car will have when they find out what the new Skoda Octavia has. It's about the envy that people will feel."
We asked our reviewers if it was a good enough idea to verbally explain the features of the car rather than focus on different camera angles.
Saji Abraham, executive director, Lowe Lintas, says, "This is an interesting way to describe features. We see Skoda talking not just about features but the effect that features have on other car owners. This is interesting and does make the features stand out as compared to merely stating or showing them."
Abraham feels that while this is interesting, the ad leaves a couple of questions unanswered.
He adds, "Why do they call out SUV owners? Is it something to do with their tagline 'Where tough meets smart'? In which case only the smart aspect has been shown and not the tough. In the second execution without the reference of the SUV, the tough aspect is even more lost. Personally, I like the handshake ad better as it captures the human insight of feeling diminished when someone buys a better car. On the whole, an interesting approach but they could have worked harder at the execution."
Bikram Bindra, vice-president and strategic planning head, Grey Group, says, "Word of mouth to highlight desirability isn't really a new creative device in automobile advertising. What this campaign does do through, is create playful banter between two individuals to showcase product superiority interestingly. This builds a certain stickiness and is certainly more memorable than the classic 'romance the car with a lot of product shots' kind of advertising."
He adds, "The execution of the ad is rather typical - in terms of setting and casting, it is classic corporate hyper male. It would have been interesting to break the mould and look a bit beyond the obvious demographic."