Shreyas Kulkarni

"We have seen a spike in traffic for used cars": Gaurav Mehta, CarDekho

The ziddi doctor character in the ad is based on adman Rajdeepak Das' dad.

How do you stop a 63-year-old retired 'ziddi' doctor from volunteering at the hospital during the Coronavirus pandemic? Well, the short answer is, you can’t. But CarDekho, an online car search venture that helps users buy new as well as used cars, suggests a smart way out.

CarDekho’s latest ad is based on adman Rajdeepak Das’ father, a retired doctor who decided to volunteer at the hospital. In it, we see siblings struggling to stop 'papa' from returning to work. After all, he’s 63 years old and it’s not safe for him to venture out, especially to a hospital in the midst of a pandemic.

They make repeated attempts to stop him, and at the end, they relent. But instead of letting him take the bus or a cab, they gift him a car using the CarDekho app.

What’s interesting to note here is the positioning of CarDekho as a safe alternative to cab-hailing apps. According to Gaurav Mehta, CMO, CarDekho, there are two types of mobility: personal and shared. Ride-hailing is all about shared mobility, and owning a car, or a two-wheeler is personal mobility.

Gaurav Mehta
Gaurav Mehta

“… shared mobility is a great thing and won’t go away. But I think people, who can’t afford to buy a car, or a two-wheeler, and say I’ll take a cab, are reconsidering their options now,” says Mehta, adding that a car is a trusted mode of transport and if you need to go somewhere at 12 a.m., booking a cab is hard. “Personal mobility will rise in the next few years and it’s not like an ‘either’ or ‘or’ situation…”

Mehta gave the example of the US state of California, which is the birthplace of shared mobility (Uber was born there). But per capita car ownership went up even after Uber was launched. Does that mean people aren’t using Uber? No, they’re using both personal and shared mobility.

Used vehicles are more in demand

The economy took a beating due to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns. And then, the consumers have tightened their purses. It must have impacted new car sales and spiked consumer interest in used ones.

“We’ve seen a spike in traffic for used cars,” says Mehta. Used cars, as a segment, has really come up because even if people can’t buy a brand new car, they can actually buy a really good quality used car at the fraction of the cost.

For two-wheelers, the sales are heavy in Tier-II, III cities, and have returned to 90 per cent pre-pandemic levels. Mehta attributes this to good monsoons, helpful government schemes and the reduced impact of COVID in those areas, as compared to urban areas.

“With new cars, entry level and the next level segment of cars are seeing very good traction. The more expensive, executive level sedans will take more time to return to their original levels.”

Buying a car online

Car ownership is a major financial and emotional moment for an Indian. People prefer to visit a dealership to touch and feel the vehicle before signing the papers. Will these people go online to buy a car, or a two-wheeler?

“Almost 90 per cent of all new car buyers in the country use a digital platform for their search. 81 per cent of all car user/buyer base comes on CarDekho,” states Mehta.

It’s a very well-penetrated industry and CarDekho is seeing that due to more digital consumption of content, price discovery, car comparison, a person, who’d earlier make three to four visits to a dealer, now only makes a couple and that is to collect the car. “… in the next three to four years, you will see that real showrooms will co-exist with virtual ones.”

Phone consultations

There’s a scene in the ad where the daughter says that doctors these days do phone consults, but the 'ziddi' doctor rebuffs it… A sly dig at brands, such as Practo and MediBuddy, and doctors, perhaps?

Says Mehta, “This gentleman doctor is 63 years old and is used to treating his patients in a certain manner… have a personal relationship with his patients. While everything is getting digitised and we’re on Zoom calls, we miss the human interaction and this ad is a nod to that… wasn’t a slight against the great work done by the hospitals and others.”

Lloyd Mathias
Lloyd Mathias

Says Lloyd Mathias, business strategist and former marketing head of HP Asia, Motorola and PepsiCo India, “It is a timely and topical ad that nicely pitches the CarDekho app for buying and selling cars, while smartly touching upon various issues around the pandemic: Concerns about pressure on the healthcare ecosystem; safety issues around using public transport; resistance to remote consultation and the like."

“The easy, yet emotional tone in a family setting makes for a great hook to watch this rather long ad. The ad also drives home the ease of buying a car by comparing the features, pricing, make and model on your app... The strong family bond of the young siblings caring for their father is a warm statement that makes an endearing impact.”

(L to R) Rajdeepak Das and Arjuna Gaur
(L to R) Rajdeepak Das and Arjuna Gaur

afaqs! also spoke to Das, chief creative officer - South Asia & managing director - India, and Arjuna Gaur, executive creative director, Leo Burnett (the latter conceptualised and shot the ad).

Gaur said, “They (CarDekho) don’t consider themselves as just a platform that sells cars, and believe that personal mobility is more than a car, it empowers people to go out and do what they need to do. How can we demonstrate the power of personal mobility in these times - that was the brief (given) to us.”

Speaking about the different ideas they’d brainstormed, Gaur revealed that Das had told him about his father’s decision to return to the hospital, “bahut tension hai…” Das then talked about his father, who loved to wear leather chappals or a Bata or Khadims (shoes).

Now, he sees his patients sporting a PPE suit. “While I struggled with this truth, Arjuna (Gaur) saw the reality and humour in it.”

“When we got the brief, we thought why should we look anywhere else… here, it’s our own story and it didn’t even take five minutes to connect everything,” remarked Gaur, adding that the biggest challenge was to capture it in the most authentic way, without making it melodramatic.

Indian eye

Das made an interesting observation, called the Indian eye. “In the Renaissance paintings, there’s only one thing happening. For instance, the Mona Lisa is smiling - one portrait. On the other hand, in ours, there’s one canvas – the King is with his concubines, the Queen is there, a war takes place somewhere in the same picture, outside the war, there’s a big lake where crocodiles are being killed, elephants are roaming in the jungle...”

He said that what Gaur did was open the box in such a way that multiple things happened in the same line, which a lot of directors are trying now... Trying to understand how we unravel multiple stories and feelings at the same time. This is the Indian eye, where in one frame, multiple scenes and stories take place.

Gaur put Indian eye in perspective when he explained that if they’d traditionally shot the ad, the scene where the father is getting ready to leave and the kids ask, “Father, where are you going,” the entire ad would have been one single film. “In advertising, we tend to shoot one scene. What we’ve tried to do (here) is make the entire canvas come alive.”

The film’s shoot happened during the start of `Unlock One’. Gaur explained that they shot in one location and the new methodology meant everyone was 10-15 feet apart and you couldn’t walk up to the actor and tell him what to do.

“We had a person at the shoot whose job was to make sure that everything we were doing was done in accordance with government’s guidelines.”

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