Ananya Pathak
Advertising

“Footage shot by employees, dealer partners, customers”: Udit Malhotra, Morris Garages, on new film

On the sidelines of the launch of the brand’s new film, we spoke to the head of marketing, MG Motor India, about how Coronavirus will impact the auto sector.

In these tough times, most brands across categories are trying hard to spread positivity and stay connected with their audiences. The government has put a ban on the shooting of ads/films because of the Coronavirus pandemic. This means that most of the communication now include self-shot videos of employees stitched together into meaningful films by the companies, with the help of their agency partners. The latest addition to this list of brands is Morris Garages (MG) India.

To spread hope and solidarity, the Gurugram-based automotive brand recently released an almost three-minute-long film ‘Raftaar wahi hogi’. MG Motor India collaborated with lyricist Rahat Indori and Delhi-based sufi rock band Faridkot for the composition.

Speaking about the film, Udit Malhotra, the newly appointed head of marketing, MG Motor India, says, “The idea behind the film is simple. It has been almost a month since the whole nation has gone into lockdown. In these unsure times, we wanted to connect with our community and send a message of hope. We chose music as a platform to do so as it speaks a universal language and is also accessible to everyone in today’s times.”

“We are fortunate that all our employees, dealer partners and customers were excited about the idea when we reached out to them. The footage you see in this film is shot at homes by them, their families, and everyone did their best,” adds Malhotra.

Udit Malhotra
Udit Malhotra

Conceptualised by Cheil India, the brand’s creative agency, the film has been produced by Happy Making Films, a Delhi-based production house.

Malhotra says that the brief given to the team was simple. “We wanted to provide a ray of hope to the whole nation. The idea was to create a song of solidarity,” he says, adding that there were various partners involved. “We also got independent music consultants on board as we wanted someone who really understands music.”

On the sidelines of the launch of the campaign, Malhotra also talked about how the role of a marketer has changed in these trying times. He opines that there definitely has been a shift in the way we interact, our pattern of consumption, the time we spend virtually, or even how we work towards our fitness. ”All these changes are getting induced at the level of our society. One can see the macro trends where consumption of media, like TV, digital platforms and OTT players, has gone up due to COVID-19. It has created the need for brands to shift their focus on having virtual engagement with their community,” he says.

"This is not the time to focus on selling your product; need to be connected with your community."

He mentions that the brand has launched a campaign #StayHomeStaySafe that reaches out to the community via different platforms and formats. MG Motor India has also launched platforms like #MGLiveFromHome, which focuses on music and comic gigs from home.

Malhotra believes that COVID-19 has given an opportunity to serious players to convert their advertising spends into community service and market for real impact. “We at MG, over the last one month, have largely focused on community service initiatives. We are working with different NGO partners to distribute sanitisation kits and face masks for people. We rerouted our ‘Developer Grant’ initiative to ‘Ventilator Challenge’ to enable a quicker resolution to the scarcity of ventilators in the country.”

"COVID-19 has given an opportunity to serious players to convert their advertising spends into community service."

“I think more than anything else, the current situation calls for marketers and brands to remain authentic and purpose-led. This is not the time to focus on selling your product. The need of the hour is to remain connected with your community and authentic content still remains the king,” adds Malhotra.

What will be the brand's major focus area once the lockdown is lifted? Malhotra says that the brand continues to focus on safety, and is working on the details to ensure social distancing practices are implemented as it prepares to resume work post lockdown. “For customers, we have recently unveiled the ‘Deliver n Disinfect’ initiative, which ensures complete car sanitisation before delivery. We are also working on an online sales mechanism, which will be tweaked from the current setup. This will be introduced on our website later this month. We also have the much-anticipated launch of Hector Plus in H2 and MG Gloster around the festive season.”

"We expect the April-June quarter to be a little shaky as we ramp up production, but aim to return to 100 per cent normalcy by September-October this year."

Commenting on how the auto sector has been affected, he points out that today, every industry is dependent on multiple countries for service, product and components. Like any industry, the automobile sector has also been impacted by COVID-19. However, he says, the brand has a good pipeline of bookings from its customers and hopes to start deliveries as soon as it resumes operations.

“We are also working to understand and anticipate the change in the consumer psyche once the lockdown gets over. We are utilising this time to create processes and workflows where there’s minimal physical interaction in the process of servicing cars, their deliveries, or demos. We expect the April-June quarter to be a little shaky as we ramp up production, but aim to return to 100 per cent normalcy by September-October this year,” Malhotra signs off.

The song 'Raftaar wahi hogi' sends the underlying message of a ‘new tomorrow’, where India will stand together and help rebuild the nation once again. Indori, the man and mind behind the lyrics, says that his intent ‘was to communicate hope and a message that we all will get through these tough times.’

MG India has tied up with Big FM as radio partner for the song's amplification.