Aishwarya Ramesh

Bajaj Auto weaves lyrics from iconic '80s ad into new spot

We spoke to the two-wheeler brand's VP, marketing, Sumeet Narang about his latest 'multi-nation' spot that conveys a new message.

Buland Bhart Ki Buland Tasveer - the 80s jingle for Bajaj Chetak scooters became one of Alyque Padamsee's best works. Bajaj has always had a very strong Indian identity, but there is a whole narrative that Indians are unaware of - its global presence. With the latest ad, Bajaj steered the narrative away from bikes and towards the riders.

Bajaj Auto weaves lyrics from iconic '80s ad into new spot

The new Bajaj Auto ad - The world's favourite Indian

Bajaj Auto weaves lyrics from iconic '80s ad into new spot

Sumeet Narang

Bajaj Auto weaves lyrics from iconic '80s ad into new spot

Dheeraj Sinha

"This phase of the brand reflects the power that India is wielding on the world," says Dheeraj Sinha, Chief Strategy Officer at Leo Burnett. According to him, the most challenging part of the project was the scale, given the amount of travel and edits involved.

We asked Sumeet Narang, Vice President - Urbanite Business at Bajaj Auto about the brief outlined for Leo Burnett about the vision for the ad.

Bajaj was looking for a way to tackle the gap in its journey and so, Narang explains that after building on individual brands (Pulsar and Discover) they turned their attention to the mother brand. In the last ten years, the company has expanded their global footprint to about 70 countries, becoming top players there. In 2018, about two million units were sold in international markets from where about 40 per cent of revenue is generated. "That is the reality of the brand, but the perception had not moved as rapidly. We realised there was need for a new narrative for brand Bajaj," Narang states.

He also discussed some of the challenges faced while conceptualising a new ad saying, "It's a fairly simple storyline - it's a dramatisation of how the brand is growing across the world. The first big challenge was how to create cinematic value around a simple storyline like this."

Bajaj Auto weaves lyrics from iconic '80s ad into new spot

Dominar is one of the Bajaj brands highlighted in this ad

Another challenge was logistics. "It was a multi-country production with hundreds of motorcycles in a variety of models that had to be shipped across countries/geographies while maintaining continuity. It was a planning thing at the end of it. The lead rider is in a red Dominar which thus, had to go to every country. From our marketing department and the Leo Burnett team, people were working with multiple spreadsheets/scheduling plans making sure the right bikes reached the right location. We needed the service support and support from distributors in those countries."

Bajaj Auto weaves lyrics from iconic '80s ad into new spot

Bajaj is focused on building its image as a global market leader with this ad

Needless to say, a project on this level required a marketing budget on a different level. "A brand identity change requires something big and meaningful and given our storyline, building on scale and an element of awe, we wanted to make sure we left nothing to chance in making this a visual spectacle. There was a lot of work that went into editing and we feel every last penny we spent was worth it" Narang shares.

Bajaj Auto weaves lyrics from iconic '80s ad into new spot

Russia is one of the countries where Bajaj has a strong presence

So, how does the treatment of an ad film differ when selling a concept VS when selling a product?

Bajaj Auto weaves lyrics from iconic '80s ad into new spot

Sanju Menon

Sanju Menon, Executive Vice President of Leo Burnett weighs in, "Bajaj has been through a huge transformation. Thanks to the technology and the advances they've brought to the riding business, they've got a lot of appreciation globally and that's a narrative many Indians don't know about. That's why we took this approach."

Menon talks about the experience of handling this project, "This was a huge responsibility for the agency. You're trying to say that this is the third part of 'Hamara Bajaj'."

Bajaj Auto weaves lyrics from iconic '80s ad into new spot

A still from the 1989 Hamara Bajaj ad

We asked three industry veterans to critique the ad; this is what they had to say:-

Satish Sethumadhavan, Group Creative Director, Mullen Lowe Lintas

Bajaj Auto weaves lyrics from iconic '80s ad into new spot

Satish Sethumadhavan

I think it's done the job of communicating to the masses that it's a global brand, but I think it could've gone beyond that. When you say 'it's my favourite Indian', what does it mean to say to audiences in Africa? Beyond just riding shots, some subtle nuanced stories of what a Platina means in Africa or what a Dominar means in Turkey/Russia would've made it feel better.

It could've been done in a more interesting manner rather than just stating it. Visually, it's a stunning ad. In terms of messaging, it does the job of saying 'we're more than just an Indian brand' and that, I felt was too obvious.

The 'Hamara Bajaj' tag that was used here sort of drifts in and out. There's one line "Yeh zameen, yeh asmaan" which was fleetingly used in this ad and was from the original 'Hamara Bajaj' ad. Those who remember it will definitely remember the line, but for newer audiences, I don't know if they are exposed to that. I thought the use of that (line) could've been much better.

Ananda Ray, Creative Head, Rediffusion

Bajaj Auto weaves lyrics from iconic '80s ad into new spot

Ananda Ray

I found the ad confusing and wasn't sure what it was trying to convey. The VO at the end clarifies it, but by then I had lost interest in the communication. I felt the journey through different countries was rushed and was no more than a 'token' ticking of certain boxes.

Despite bikes being there in every scene, I only thought of the Indian rider's bike as a Bajaj and he felt more like a visitor than someone integrated into the local culture of the various places shown. The ad did not convey what it had perhaps intended to. I feel 'Duniya ka Bajaj' or something on those lines would have been a more logical extension for the positioning of the export bikes. I was not quite pleased with the brand appropriating itself as the 'world's favourite Indian'. It feels arrogant and, therefore, offensive to me.

Raghu Bhat, Founder, Scarecrow M&C Saatchi

Bajaj Auto weaves lyrics from iconic '80s ad into new spot

Raghu Bhat

The brief was probably to convey that Bajaj bikes have an international footprint. The ad manages to communicate that by literally showing the bike in other locations (Mexico, Malaysia etc). The imagery of bikes racing across foreign roads is, however, not very new.

Scale has been used, but the valid question is - does it have a shot that leaps out and touches a chord? Another debatable point is - if this is relevant to the Indian audience and how will he decode it? Will it make him think - is the brand trying to impress me by flashing its foreign credentials? Young India is increasingly comfortable in its own skin. So, is this a way to create 'aspiration' vis-a-vis Japanese bikes? If that is the case, I wouldn't agree with the tagline - The world's favourite Indian, as it sounds a bit eager-to-please. In an era of global competition, Indians will be prouder of a world-class product that competes with everyone rather than just be the world's favourite Indian product.