Sunit Roy

New Honda spot traces storyline of recent Hero ad...

Both two-wheeler brands released ads just months apart. A look at the coincidence.

Do you recall Hero MotoCorp's #PehchaanBulandiKi campaign that was released in March for its 125cc motorcycle, the Super Splendor? Chances are you would! The ad depicts a story of a modern family where the son, who works in a different city, is visiting home. The father and grandmother tease the mother with the characteristics of "someone" who is accompanying him; who is modern and stylish... making it sound like a possible marriage prospect. The twist is that the attributes being described are of his bike, the Super Splendor.

New Honda spot traces storyline of recent Hero ad...

Honda Activa's 'Sau mein se sava sau' campaign

Treading the same path, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India recently released a campaign for the new Activa 125. Titled 'Sau mein se sava sau', the ad features a family where the daughter is set to introduce her love interest to her father. While the father expresses his initial scepticism about her choice, the daughter elaborates on the qualities of the boy which embody the features of the Activa 125 - smart, sensible, strong and belonging to a good family (i.e. Activa). On arrival, the boy introduces himself as 'Captain Vikram'; the father is extremely impressed and whispers to his daughter, "Sau me se sava sau hai!"

New Honda spot traces storyline of recent Hero ad...

Hero MotoCorp's #PehchaanBulandiKi campaign released in March this year

While the campaign aims to promote the new class-leading features of the Activa 125, leveraging on trust and the legacy of brand Activa, we asked Titus Upputuru, national creative director, Dentsu One (the creative agency behind the campaign), if the idea was borrowed/inspired to take on the competition in the 125cc category.

New Honda spot traces storyline of recent Hero ad...

Titus Upputuru

"We were clear that the film was a pure product demonstration. Consumers simply wanted to see what is new in the product. So, we showcased the product and highlighted the features - the Activa 125 has such as strong metallic body, LED position lamp, Eco mode etc. To demonstrate the power of the product, we showed the protagonist climbing uphill to meet his prospective in-laws. There are no comparisons," he says.

Speaking about the insight on which the campaign is based upon, Upputuru explains, "If you belong to a good family, you will have good genes. That's the key insight we have taken to build communication for the campaign. The product scores 125 per cent in every aspect and that's why the expression 'Sau mein se sava sau!"

New Honda spot traces storyline of recent Hero ad...

'Suitable Boy': Ad film released by Hyundai in 2004

While the construct is very similar to that of the Hero Super Splendor ad, with some executional tweaks, the plot itself seems quite clichéd. In 2004, Hyundai released an ad titled 'Suitable Boy', to promote its luxury sedan - the Accent. The story opens with a daughter introducing her choice for a husband to her father. At first sight, the father is impressed with the boy leaning against a Hyundai Accent as if it's his own. However, when the father realises that the boy was merely leaning against it, he changes his mind. It had a surprise value in a run-off-the-mill situation and the brand message said: "Respect comes naturally with Accent".

Over to the experts...

Saji Abraham, executive director, Lowe Lintas, feels that the ad is well-made and there are subtle cues of the product being integrated well. "The fact that the couple is on a ski lift and the Activa is climbing up a hill, cues more power; the helmet space, kill switch etc. have all come out well too," Abraham says.

New Honda spot traces storyline of recent Hero ad...

Saji Abraham

New Honda spot traces storyline of recent Hero ad...

Naresh Gupta

New Honda spot traces storyline of recent Hero ad...

Rohit Raj

However, he maintains, "There is no surprise factor and therefore, not too much of repeat viewability. If enough GRP's are purchased, it will give it decent recall and will, overall, drive an image of solidity and trust. If the intention was to reinforce the reliability of the Honda Activa, then it should work. However, due to the story construct of the typical father, the boy coming to meet the parents, the mother pleading the cause of the daughter; it will not evoke any innovation/newness cues."

With regards to the similarity between the videos of the two brands, Abraham shares, "While similar, the ads are different enough to run on their own without confusing the consumer too much. I don't think it was deliberately done. It's more likely that the idea was cracked and then nuances added to make it as different as possible from the Hero ad; primarily because the Splendor ad itself is not really memorable and is very predictable. Also, the TG for the Splendor is quite different from that of the Activa. So, I wouldn't really see the Activa as competition to the Splendor and therefore, the ad isn't really a dig at it."

Naresh Gupta, managing partner and chief strategy officer, Bang in the Middle, also agrees that the ideas are similar as they come from the same insight; it's just that the final line that Honda has used is a little cleverer than Hero's.

"From a pure production value perspective, both are well made. But they are similar and it's a big battle for consumers to recall and remember which idea belongs to whom. If advertising is to create a distinct impression, then both brands are losing out due to similar ads," he says and continues, "The two brands are building their local connect - Honda wanting to be the Heartland, Hero building on local culture."

Rohit Raj, creative chief and co-founder, The Glitch, feels that in today's day and age when there are 30 pieces of content coming out every week, there is a sheer coincidence of a similar idea being repeated by two brands. The fact that it was missed by the planning teams, considering the same category, is a little baffling though.

He says, "If this was a genuine attempt to take on a rival brand, then it was quite the foolish move because if you are taking something on, you need to better it. This didn't even lend itself to be a spoof on the ad made by the competitor."

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