A picturesque landscape, a rocky terrain, a leather jacket or biker's suit, a race track, a magnificent sound track... boom...you have cracked the code for a motorcycle commercial. But not for the latest campaign - #MyBullet - by Chennai headquartered motorcycle brand Royal Enfield. The three 30-second films released as part of this campaign are instead 'an-everyday-rider' story of a soldier, a not-so-boho working woman and a doctor.
The ad films that hinge upon the tagline, “Ye Bullet Meri Jaan” were launched with the introduction of six new colours of the Bullet 350. Shubhranshu Singh, global brand and marketing head, Royal Enfield tells us that the campaign aims to celebrate the values that have come to represent the Royal Enfield Bullet and those who ride it. “The films reflect resilient, enduring characters and the unwavering spirit of the motorcycle and its riders. These are people who march to the tune of their own heartbeat,” he says.
The campaign is running in select markets, namely - Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Kerala. Singh tells us that the geographical focus of the campaign across these three states mirrors the three largest markets for the Bullet in terms of contribution.
A division of Eicher Motors Limited, the Indian motorcycle manufacturing brand Royal Enfield started production in 1901 and currently sells motorcycles in more than 50 countries. We asked Singh what the Indian market is like for the brand. Without getting into specifics, he shares that the southern and western parts of the country have always been over-indexed in terms of volume. However, individual states are very dynamic in their behaviour.
He mentions that the market for leisure motorcycling – what we call the 'mid-segment' motorcycles (250-750cc) – has been consistently growing in India. "Today, we have over three and a half million Royal Enfield riding enthusiasts in the country. While we are an automotive OEM and are cognisant of industry trends and competitors, we don't compete with anyone. We have a different take on motorcycling and build simple, pared down motorcycles that offer tremendous immersive fun and are yet accessible to all,” he says.
Since the country is witnessing a surge in financially independent women who wield purchasing power, we asked Singh how much brand preference comes from them. “Women are not just passive decision makers, but are active riding enthusiasts as well. There are hundreds of riding clubs across the country and women form a notable part of many of these groups. Women have been participating in enthusiastic numbers across all our marquee events and rides, such as the Himalayan Odyssey and Rider Mania,” he comments.
While the film featuring the woman rider and the one featuring the soldier are meant only for digital, the films with the doctor protagonist is specific to Kerala and will air on television only in that state.
The proposition and communication narrative for the campaign was built in-house by the brand. Black or White Brand Communications, a Mumbai-based marketing communications agency, was a part of building the expression and production of the campaign.
Sartaj Jaffri, CEO, Black or White Brand Communications, tells us over a telephonic conversation that the brief given by the brand for this campaign was to use the launch of Bullet's new range to reinforce and amplify the resilient character of the Bullet.
We asked him about the films being a little too dark visually. “...as planned,” he quips. “The situations were consciously crafted to bring alive the resilient character (mirroring the brand character) of the protagonist in all the three films.”
About the ad featuring the female rider, Jaffri shares that his team and the brand particularly crafted it to feature a regular, everyday kind of girl and not stereotype it with tattoos, leather jackets and coloured hair, in order to resonate and connect with the customer base.
This is however, not the first time that the brand has featured a woman rider or men in uniform.
Soldiers and bikes have had an age-old relationship. Various other rival brands from the category too have featured service men in their communications.
Commenting on this, Rahul Vengalil, founder of digital agency WhatClicks, says, “The Bullet is an iconic brand and there are certain core identifiers for the brand. A soldier riding a Bullet is something like that, which the brand has retained over time, failing which it may risk losing relevance among the core users.”
He mentions that one should look at this campaign holistically and not in isolation. “The campaign is cutting the stereotype and gender bias and at the same time, retains the lead identifier. This is something that not many bike brands have done, at least successfully. Even the soldier riding the Bullet has a purpose unlike previous ones, which merely juxtaposed the soldier and the bike.”
His personal favourite film from this campaign is that of the doctor's. “It is topical, it is functional and retains the essence of the brand,” he says.
Navin Kansal, chief creative officer, 21N78E Creative Labs, feels that the soldier proposition is pretty much tried and tested territory. But, given the legacy and the association that the Bullet has with the Indian Army, it's perhaps par for the course.
About the latest film by Royal Enfield, he proposes that maybe a more goosebumps-inducing storyline could have been explored instead of the typical duty-calls-time-to-go theme.
Commenting on the campaign, he says, “The idea and execution is classic Bullet territory - the unwavering spirit, looking to reinforce what the bike stands for. Personally, I found the film with the girl student who is not the least bit intimidated by the male gaze, to be more striking and one that gelled better with 'The New Range' proposition.”