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Advertising - Big Idea

Special Columns
Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Chief Consulting Editor's Desk
Rajita Chaudhuri
K.K.Srivastava Guest Column
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Will this sequel of ‘happy legs’ make M&M happier?
There’s more to the indian car market than just hatchbacks. and M&m wants to prove this isn’t just theory. will xylo’s makeover make its task any easier?
For as long as anyone can remember, India has been counted as a market where versions of A, B or C car models have a greater chance of being lapped-up by buyers if they come in the sub-4000 mm length. Over last year however, the two-million-a-year selling four-wheeler market has been in flux. What has forced the change in equation is the emergence of Utility Vehicles (UVs) as powerful volume-selling products. Count this. Between April and June 2012, sales of UVs (volume) in India grew 50.85% y-o-y (to 117,711 units). This when the overall passenger vehicles market grew by 9.71% goes to show how the UV segment has outpaced the overall market in recent years. What is most encouraging about this change is the manner in which the segment has started contributing greater volumes to the 4-wheeler market in recent months. Three years back, the UV category was actually declining. Between April-June 2009, its sales shrunk 1.52%. A year back, the category accounted between 11-13% of the total sales in the four-wheeler market in India. Today, this figure has reached 18%. The story of how the Indian automart is battling slowdown is really one where the UV market is playing the oxygen tank.

Call it a coincidence but the growth story of UVs in India began during the time when Mahindra & Mahindra started showing its seriousness beyond the Scorpio and Bolero. Today, after the sensation-of-a-launch of the XUV 500 (whose production schedule is running a delay of 5-6 months due to excess demand), the company is doing its best to market the latest avatar of its other big bet launched two years back – the Xylo (the ‘Stylish new Xylo’ as M&M brands it), that was launched in February this year. Strategically, where M&M scores a full 10 is the choice of category where appears to have neatly settled in. Today, it commands a 52.9% share in the sub-Rs.15 lakh platform, the only sub-segment where it sells. And going by how the company has introduced incremental innovation in the Xylo – enhancing its exteriors, interiors and overall performance with new features like stylish headlamps, sporty rear spoiler, glossy wood interior panels, mHawk turbocharged CRDe engine, a voice command technology to adjusts speaker volumes and unlock doors et al – expect its share in the sub-category to inch closer to the 60% mark in another quarter with ease.

To ‘again’ put this steal of a buy in the public eye [the first TVC of the campaign was launched in February 2012. It showed the original Xylo’s exteriors getting a makeover in a car washing station, and being rolled out as the new Xylo], starting June this year, M&M chose to air the second sequel of its ‘happy legs’. As before, creative agency Interface Communications injects a fresh feel into the 30-second spot that highlights the new stylish Xylo. The challenge this time was to move beyond selling just the proposition of adequate legroom space. The idea of a makeover had to surface – challenging when on the screen, you have three leggy beauties accompanying ace fashion photographer Atul Kasbekar.

Sharing the idea behind the project Robby Mathew, NCD, Interface, tells 4Ps B&M, “The new Xylo TVC picks up exactly where the last one left off. In the last ad, the vehicle wandered into a car wash station, but ended up getting a makeover. Now fresh from the car wash, Atul and the girls continue their journey in the stylish new Xylo. The core proposition of the Xylo has always been its roomy legroom, crystallised as ‘happy legs’. This campaign had to educate people know about the restyled exterior and interiors, but it quickly comes back to the Xylo’s core strength of space, especially the voice command technology system.”

The TVC opens with Atul driving around in the new Xylo with three models. They travel through a scenic beach town, down to a pier for a fashion photo shoot. En route, the four play around with the new Voice Command System and even change into costume in the Xylo’s spacious interiors, delighting a few fishermen. Actually, the fishermen shown between the 12th and 15th second of the TVC weren’t in the original cast plan. They made their way into it, while the shoot was in progress. Reveals Alan Rego, writer of the new ad-film (Creative Team – Interface), to 4Ps B&M, “For the sequel TVC, there is a scene where the models had to change clothes in the new Xylo. Even though they weren’t actually doing so, we got a lot of attention from the fishermen out there who were feeling shy. We realised their importance and included them in the script. We captured their natural expressions who weren’t possibly aware of the ad being filmed there.” The signature track ‘Can’t get you off my mind’, which worked well in the previous formats adds life to the sequel. In the last five second of the TVC, the VO says, “Happy legs in a stylish new Xylo”.

This TVC scores high because of the simplicity of message delivery. Sans complicated technology-jargons to confuse viewers, the ad-film is lively, fresh and gets the message to the idiot box with good impact. Add the characters used and the background score, its recall too is bound to be high. Adding his thought on the attempt, Vivek Nayer, Sr. VP – Marketing, Automotive Division, M&M, tells 4Ps B&M, “The new TVC being a continuation of the Xylo’s ‘Makeover TVC’ [aired in February 2012] reveals the key features of the stylish new Xylo in a cool & trendy way. It also reinforces the fact that the stylish new Xylo is gold standard in luxurious space & possesses pioneering features.”

With sales of the Xylo already having crossed the 90,000 units-mark since its launch, this TVC does spice-up a refreshed product that is making news for being the right mix of price and quality (the highest-priced model of the new Xylo, the E9, is Rs.10.5 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi), and a potential Tavera (Chevrolet) and Innova (Toyota) killer. The only matter to look into for the agency and M&M together is whether the next time around, they can afford a repeat of the cast. In all likelihood, viewers would expect something different than ‘happy legs’ to get amused. But for now, the TVC works to spread the word quickly.

Alan Rego, the TVC’s script-writer shares how throughout the shoot of the Xylo-makeover TVC, the production team was worried about the rain that could have spoilt its tight-schedule. An hour after the shoot was over, it started raining pitchforks and hammer handles. Perhaps it was a message from the rain gods – of how well-timed the Xylo makeover act was. Given the manner in which the UV market has grown in recent quarters, M&M has a good reason to believe so.

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