For as long as one can remember, Maruti Suzuki has been wooing customers with the functional benefits that the brand offers. The brand made it a point to communicate on the same lines... be it 'kitna deti hai' or 'petrol khatam nahin hunda'. But this is an era when most brands are trying to weave in purpose into the fabric of their business. An era when a mosquito repellent brand stands by tough moms and a snack brand celebrates the ‘progressive thinking’ that young Indian homemakers bring into traditional Indian families. In such times, the New Delhi-headquartered automobile manufacturer's cause-heavy offering — #BeLimitless — naturally comes as no surprise.
The three-part video series for Maruti Suzuki Swift, each 180 seconds long, features Indian Olympic boxer Mary Kom, para-athlete Bhupender Sharma and corporate banker, Vikas Dimri who scaled Mt Everest.
Speaking about the campaign, Shashank Srivastava, executive director, sales and marketing, Maruti Suzuki India, shares that #BeLimitlesss honors those who are in the pursuit of new challenges and bettering themselves. He says, "To increase brand salience and resonance with respect to performance, it is important to engage with the target group in a meaningful manner and drive conversations with them around performance.”
He adds, "The celebrities are in pursuit of new challenges to better themselves. They are as dynamic as brand Maruti Suzuki and fit perfectly with the relentless pursuit of high performance which the Swift stands for.”
The idea of this campaign takes us back to the recent ads by the IndianOil — 'Unsung Heroes'. Analysing the brand fit in the communication, we had questioned: in the last 10 seconds of the films, if the brand's logo and tagline is replaced with that of a detergent or an automobile or a cosmetic brand, would it make as much sense? We wonder if it’s time to ask the same question here again?
Maruti Suzuki's digital campaign, crafted by Dentsu Impact, a creative agency under the Dentsu Aegis Network, targets an audience that possesses a young, trendy and dynamic mindset. "We are targeting someone who is active, social, tech-savvy but most importantly, is in the relentless pursuit of challenging the status quo," Srivastava specifies.
Anupama Ramaswamy, national creative director, Dentsu Impact, tells us that the brief for the campaign was to take the ‘Be Limitless’ philosophy beyond just the car. "We wanted to create content that would resonate with our target group more meaningfully. The ask was to build a higher brand repute by associating it with performance, but in an emotional way," she divulges.
She further tells us that these three stories were selected because the brand felt they strongly connect with a consumer’s ‘nothing-is-impossible’ attitude. She explains, "The limitless spirit celebrates individuals who keep challenging themselves. Mary Kom is someone who symbolises this attitude, and has gone beyond all conventional limits to make a name for herself. And at age 36, she is not slowing down. But along with her story, we also wanted to bring the stories of ordinary men and women who never accept things as they are, and keep pushing past all limits to realise their dreams.”
Under the 'Be Limitless' umbrella, during the Indian Super League, the brand ensured that hardcore football fans got a chance to watch the ISL Final live between Bengaluru FC and FC Goa without actually being present at the stadium in Mumbai. The brand live streamed selected ISL fans on the perimeter board in real-time and the selected fans enjoyed the match from the comfort of their homes.
The campaign however isn't the first time that the automobile manufacturer — a subsidiary of Japanese car and motorcycle manufacturer Suzuki Motor Corporation — has taken up a cause-driven initiative. Inspired by the thought, 'If we know it’s wrong, why do we still do it?’, the brand, three years back, released a series of eight videos to tackle commonly flouted traffic rules in the country as a part of its #SafeRoadsWithMaruti initiative.
So, is the latest purpose-driven campaign by Maruti Suzuki a hit or miss? We asked some industry experts.
Navin Theeng, executive creative director, Havas Gurgaon, is of the opinion that just like potential Miss World contestants wanting to bring about world peace, many brands fall in the trap of claiming a ‘purpose’ too lofty. Purpose that is not built on brand values or product truths is simply fluff. And a waste of advertising money.
“#Limitless or #BeLimitless is not connected to Maruti Suzuki or Swift. Neither has the brand done anything that can be seen as aspiring to be limitless nor has Swift stretched limits. If this ‘purpose’ had been backed by real action, like a Swift that could do 100 kms per litre, then it would have be real and believable,” he says.
“For the public, the ‘purpose’ of Maruti Suzuki has been to always deliver better value. It had been brought alive by the ‘Petrol khatam nahin hunda’ campaign. Then later on by the ‘Kitna deti hai?’ campaign. #BeLimitless, backed without a real product offering, is likely to be the proverbial ship passing at night. Till then, if #BeLimitless is used, people will ascribe it to a brand such as The North Face or even Tesla,” Theeng adds.
Commenting further on the ideation and execution of the campaign, he says, “The stories of Mary Kom, Vikas Dimri and Bhupendra Sharma are inspiring and visually delightful, but it does nothing for the brand.”
Satbir Singh, founder and chief creative officer, Thinkstr, says, “It's good to see these inspiring stories brought alive. While Mary Kom is a household name, the others are everyday heroes that most of us haven't heard about.”
“Purpose based marketing should see seamless brand integration. One shouldn't have to think hard about the brand's role, at least in the communication. I feel in this case it comes across as a bit of a title sponsor. It does, however, feel right for the mother-brand Maruti, as the country's largest automaker, to have told these stories,” he adds.