Sumita Vaid

Maruti stalks young consumers with new Zen

While the old Zen was likened in its communication to an ice figure skater, in its new avatar the Zen is alluded to a big jungle cat on the prowl

The redesigned Zen with a low-slung, wide body was unveiled at a press conference in the capital yesterday. While the old Zen was likened in its communication to an ice figure skater - invoking associations of manoeuvrability, poise and elegance - in its new avatar the Zen is alluded to a big jungle cat on the prowl. Clearly, this dramatic shift in the positioning of Zen - that sells almost 5,000 units a month, with over 45 per cent market share in its segment - is axiomatic of Maruti's own bold stance of pushing the market share of Zen in India and Europe.

Created by Hakuhodo Percept, the television commercial for the new Zen showcases its new styling through the theme of a predator and prey in the context of a modern jungle. The film is set against the backdrop of Prague (Czech Republic) with majestic monuments of the Gothic era to liken it to a modern jungle. The film opens with the shot of a blonde being stalked by a tiger through the city at night. Interestingly, when the girl is on the road, she is followed by a car and when she is off the road - climbing stairs, or rushing through a bridge - she appears to be stalked by a tiger.

As the frightened girl tries to escape her stalker, she finds herself at a cul-de-sac caught by the headlights of the car. At the sight of the smart new car, her fright changes to capitulation. With a sultry half smile, she approaches the car, runs her fingers over the bodyline of the car, opens the door and slips in. The voiceover says, "Surrender, to the new Zen."

Explaining the core idea behind the ad, Debashis Bose, CEO, Hakuhodo Percept, says, "From the day Avik Chattopadhyay (deputy general manager, marketing, Maruti Udyog) of Maruti revealed the new Zen, we, at the agency, were struck by the similarities to a big jungle cat - mesmerising eyes for headlamps, a low-slung wide body and an aggressive snarl for a grille. This fructified into the core idea of predator and prey."

The emphasis on the sleek looks of the new Zen was especially important for Maruti because this time, it has set its eyes on a relatively young, emerging group of consumers with considerable purchasing power. "There is a large number of people, mostly young, below 30 years of age, who love the Zen's core attributes but wish it had a more contemporary look. The new Zen has been created for them," says Ravi G Bhatia, general manager, marketing, Maruti Udyog.

And even though the communication projects Zen as an aggressive car, it continues to espouse the traditional values of Maruti - quality, performance and dependability.

With all this, the Indian consumer is not the only ones Maruti has in mind. It is looking at the European market with equal zest as the car was originally created for the European market. Which partly explains the choice of the location to highlight Zen's European heritage. © 2003 agencyfaqs!