Sumita Vaid

WagonR: Unconventionally yours

In the latest ad campaign for the WagonR, the multidimensional aspect of the car gets equated with the car owner’s versatility and his individualism

On the face of it, it is hard finding continuity in the advertising of small car brand, WagonR. Each successive campaign appears strikingly different from the one that preceded it, and a consistent brand idea seems to be the casualty.

Take the Superman-like launch campaign for the car. ‘It's a car. It's a Wagon. It's a Suzuki WagonR'. Naturally, the brand's Japanese pedigree was played up, and there were some allusions to the ‘tall boy' design. This was followed by the 'Multi Activity Vehicle' campaign, which, in turn, was replaced by the 'Challenge Boredom' thought. Shortly after, the ‘Feel At Home' campaign was launched, which was all about… well, feeling at home.

And now, it is ‘Inspired Engineering'.

With the latest campaign, the multidimensional aspect of the WagonR acquires metaphoric proportions, as the car's physical prowess gets equated with the car owner's versatility and his ability to multitask. And although the WagonR owner has been depicted as being individualistic and unconventional in the past, this is the first time in the brand's advertising that the owner is at the heart of the campaign.

Confusing though all this looks, on closer inspection a composite whole emerges from the disparate pieces that each WagonR campaign represents. The launch campaign (‘It's a Suzuki WagonR') was all about the car and its pedigree. In the ‘Multi Activity Vehicle' campaign, the communication stressed on the multiple tasks a WagonR could perform. Through tangential explorations, the brand idea of ‘multiple activity' was taken forward in the ‘Challenge Boredom' thought - a car that allowed the owner to stay in touch with his adventurous half (by chasing down robbers and whatnot), even as he went along doing the daily chores. Functional benefit plus emotional benefit. More importantly, it laid the foundations for a WagonR owner being unconventional. ‘Feel At Home' was all about how the owner of the WagonR felt about his car. Once again, the campaign projected the WagonR owner as being someone with slightly different mental make-up. Case in point: Gul Panag breaking into a jig on a table in an open-air restaurant.

Here are the ads in the series currently on air, briefly. The first ad (‘boss') shows a corporate executive who is described as someone of whom the secretary is ‘terrified of' and whose ‘juniors tremble before him'. And his colleagues ‘call him a shark.' However, in the end, the ad highlights a new facet of his personality - he teaches kids football. ‘But for the children he coaches, it's a different story,' says the voiceover. The ‘Doberman' film shows an architect giving a female colleague a lift. Suddenly, a bunch of Dobermans starts chasing the WagonR. ‘When he is not designing stunning buildings, Ravi relaxes by training Dobermans,' the voiceover explains. The payoff: some of the most interesting people drive the WagonR.

The commercials illustrate a deeper relationship between the car and the owner. Multi-activity person bonds with a multi-activity vehicle. Compatibility. And the insight came from the brief given to the agency. "The brief was to bring the brand top-of-mind and portray the character of the WagonR owner so as to give the brand a distinctive personality," says Ravi Bhatia, general manager, marketing, Maruti Udyog. "Which is why we have shown different kinds of people who drive the WagonR, and the depth in their character."

The creative idea had its genesis in the technology of the car - and qualitative research on WagonR owners. "The campaign is the result of both the agency and the client teams agreeing to the objective of drawing on the technological superiority of the car to portray the personality of the consumer who loves the WagonR," explains Mohit Hira, senior vice-president, Contract Advertising, Delhi. "It is not about hype or about glamorous stars, but about real heroes in their own lives."

Talking about the findings from the research, Hira says, "We discovered that as compared to the shallow, superficial looks of the closest competitor, the WagonR was seen as a car with far more depth in its class. Its owners came across as die-hard loyalists of the brand, who were confident of their choice with no post-purchase qualms, whatsoever. They were more mature and stable, and valued relationships, whereas for the competitive car owners, the relationship was about fulfilling a need." In addition to this, WagonR owners were found to have a different dimension to their personality. "They did not possess the herd mentality," the agency executive continues. "These were people who led a full life, and yet found the time to do the things they wanted to do as distinct from doing things that the world or their peer group exhorted them to do."

Interestingly, in order to show the multifaceted nature of the WagonR owner, the ads have mixed extreme opposites. "In the ‘Doberman' film, the WagonR guy is an architect. Architects, by perception, are not very adventurous, but are creative in nature," Hira points out. "But the film captures the other side of the architect, who is adventurous in a very different way. The other film shows an aggressive corporate executive in action. But when he is not working, he has a totally different person, kind and gentle with children."

The idea, quite clearly, is to differentiate the WagonR as an unconventional car for unconventional people. "WagonR is an unconventional looking car due to its futuristic design. With this new series of ads we have tried to highlight the fit between the vehicle and the mindset of its owner," sums up Bhatia.


Agency team: Syeda Imam, Nandu Narashimhan, Jossy Raphael, Nitin Srivastava, Mohit Hira, Ashish Dabral, Prashant Mathur, Sandeep Handa

Brand team: Kinji Saito, Ravi Bhatia, Sanjeev Taneja, Shaswati Saradar, Rohit Sharma

Production house: Adfilmvalas

Film Director: Kunal Kapoor

© 2003 agencyfaqs!

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