Aishwarya Ramesh

Ford India pulls a Gillette: A look at the brand's new 'woke' spots

Two new TVCs for Ford India by BBDO India want to target a ‘woke’ audience...

When it comes to car advertisements, the imagery is all too familiar – shiny paint, plush interiors and overall great driving experience when the car zips along on smooth roads or rough terrains. Ford India, in its new campaign, is looking to break that mould. Titled ‘Discover the More in You,’ the campaign has been conceptualised by BBDO India.

A press release mentions that the campaign has been led under the creative supervision of Josy Paul, Anunay Rai and Gaurangi Mathur. Filmmaker Shimit Amin has directed the TVCs.

Ford India pulls a Gillette: A look at the brand's new 'woke' spots

Ford's ad talks about road rage and being the 'bigger' person

Ford India pulls a Gillette: A look at the brand's new 'woke' spots

This commercial by Ford deals with the bystander effect

What we noticed about the first TVC on the topic of road rage, was that it had the same tone as Gillette’s #MeToo themed spot. Both Gillette’s and Ford’s ad reference being your best self in a world filled with toxic masculinity. While Ford India’s newest TVC does not reference gender equality in the way Gillette’s does, it still calls upon the user to step up and be the best that he can be.

Ford India pulls a Gillette: A look at the brand's new 'woke' spots

Rahul Gautam

Over email, we spoke to Rahul Gautam, Ford’s vice president of marketing about the campaign. He told us it’s a 360-degree campaign which will be supported by on-ground activations and that the lead media for the campaign will be TV and digital. He also mentioned that the company would add radio and on-ground activities soon.

We asked Gautam about the research that went into conceptualising and creating this ad to which he replied – “The campaign touches upon a lot of problems people face in their daily lives – like road rage or apathy to accident victims. Apart from the consumer and segment research, we looked deeply into how these issues impacted our audience. The research also drew from a road safety survey we did to unravel the behaviour and attitude of average Indian road users.”

He also mentioned that the second TVC, titled ‘Helping Hand’ – has origins in the finding which showed nearly 41 per cent of respondents admitted to not taking an accident victim to a hospital.

It’s possible that Ford India is trying to target a ‘woke’ audience. When we asked Gautam who their target audience is for this campaign, this was his response – “Ford products as well as campaigns, target an audience who carry a point of view, like to stand for issues that matter, is open to new views, and looking to make well-informed decisions. Our audience invests in relationships where trust and transparency score high.”

We got in touch with adman Sumanto Chattopadhyay, the chairman and chief creative officer of 82.5 Communications to understand the campaign better and to figure out how to sell a car to an Indian consumer in 2019.

Ford India pulls a Gillette: A look at the brand's new 'woke' spots

Sumanto Chattopadhyay

One of the first things that he told us was that nowadays, consumers want to associate with a brand that stands for a larger purpose. He also pointed out that when one of the TVCs uses the Hindi word 'badappan' it could possibly be trying to draw a parallel between owning/driving a big car and being the bigger person.

“If you look at both ads in two different ways, it’s telling you to be a more decent human being. They’re using road-based situations because it’s a car company. The first TVC talks about road rage which we’ve all experienced at some point and the other TVC about the accident is a situation we’ve all probably been in at some point when we don’t want to hassle ourselves with helping someone who’s possibly hurt. The TVCs focus on the nobler traits that we aspire to have, but sometimes in our day-to-day lives, we forget to have,” says Chattopadhyay.

He told us that in advertising, a brand can either talk about the product itself or its user. “You can draw an idealised picture of the user of the brand and sometimes a consumer might resonate with that. At other times it can be entirely on the brand and the product itself. They’ve gone with the approach of creating a profile of an ideal consumer and that’s also one way of doing things and setting yourself apart from the others in the process,” he tells us.

When we asked Chattopadhyay what it takes to sell a car to a consumer in 2019, he tells us that there is no one-size-fits-all approach in that sense. “Generally speaking, in India, we go for an approach that’s more closely connected with the product features and sometimes that’s an easier message to communicate – the consumer can relate to it more when you’re talking about the car or you’re showing him its looks and features, but there’s a certain ‘sameness’ in that also, right?” he responded.

Chattopadhyay signs off by telling us that ultimately, for an average Indian consumer who’s looking to buy a car, it has to look great, it has to be sturdy, economical to buy and fuel efficient.

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