Bajaj takes a dig at Hero’s Passion & Splendor in its latest Discover 125 ad

17 Feb,2012

By Rajiv Singh & Bhanu Pande

 

“We have not yet beaten Bajaj, they’ve just been overtaken by us,” said Brijmohan Lall Munjal in 2001, when the reticent Munjal family patriarch and chairman of Hero Honda understated the fact that his company sold more two-wheelers than Bajaj Auto.

 

Fast forward to 2012.

The latest TV commercial for Discover 125 takes a veiled dig at Hero’s flagship brands Passion and Splendor as the old bonhomie between two industrial giants gives way to no-holds-barred marketing strategy in a fiercely competitive market.

 

Bajaj Auto MD Rajiv Bajaj said the advertisement reflects a strategic repositioning and it’s not about Hero: “Our campaign is based on a consumer research interpretation and has nothing to do with taking on Hero”.

 

That’s the official line. But most people who have watched the commercial feel it’s unmistakably targeted at Hero MotoCorp, the new entity formed after the Munjal family-owned Hero bought out its 27-year long partner Honda last year.

 

Industry watchers say the breakup with Honda has weakened the market leader in the world’s second-largest two-wheeler market and Bajaj Auto wants to make the most of it.

“Now Hero is without the safety helmet of Honda, so it is the best time for Bajaj to inflict maximum damage on the leader that is weak and vulnerable,” ,” said Prathap Suthan, chief creative officer of iYogi, a global remote tech support company and the man who created the government’s ‘India Shining’ and ‘Incredible India’ campaigns.

 

KYUN, HERO?

The advertisement shows three men owning different commuter bikes (seen in the background) say they always desired Discover 125, but settled for something lesser to satisfy father or wife, or to avoid annoying boss.

 

They sound apologetic and wistful about their bikes. When they name them, a bleep sinks their voice, but it leaves enough for viewers to guess they are referring to Hero’s Splendor or Passion. “Discover nahin hai, par chalta hai,” each of them says. And the commercial, created by Ogilvy & Mather, ends with voice over, “Discover 125, ye chalta nahin, daudta hai.”

 

The only previous time a Bajaj commercial took on Hero Honda was back in the early 1990s when a campaign for its 4s Champion teased Hero Honda with a tagline, “Kyun Hero?”

 

Bajaj Auto President, Motorcycles, K Srinivas said that the advertisement does not take a dig at any rival, but wouldn’t comment on the bleep sound.

 

DOING A BMW

Rajiv Bajaj says his company wants to do what luxury carmaker BMW did when it entered the US 30 years ago – reposition the leader: “Mercedes was already an established player. So BMW said that Mercedes is the ultimate sitting machine, while BMW is the ultimate driving machine.”

 

Now Bajaj wants to do something similar. “As part of an internal discussion, we felt that if you are not a leader, position yourself and re-position the leader by projecting yourself as the opposite of a leader… that’s what we are doing,” said Mr Bajaj.

 

With Discover 125, Bajaj seeks a large chunk in the biggest segment of the two-wheeler market. Discover competes in the executive commuter segment – or bikes in Rs40,000-50,000 price range – that accounts for two-thirds of the two-wheeler market that sells more than a million units a year. This segment is dominated by Splendor and Passion. But that may soon change.

 

BATTLE ROYALE

“Splendor and Passion have not changed at all over the last few years, except maybe a tweak in graphics. They are heading the way Bajaj Chetak did,” said Adil Jal Darukhanawala, Editor, Zigwheels. One of the most popular scooters in the country, Chetak was discontinued in 2009.

 

Analysts say Hero is grappling on technology front after the exit of Honda and this opens up the largest segment to competitors like Bajaj Auto and Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India that have planned aggressive model refurbishment and new launches.

 

“For the first time in a decade, Bajaj is sniffing an opportunity to challenge the numero uno,” said Saurabh Uboweja, director of brand consulting firm Brands of Desire.

 

He said that Bajaj’s take on Hero MotoCorp is deliberate and well timed: “By projecting buyers of Hero bikes as meek and compromising, Bajaj is also highlighting the weaknesses of Hero MotoCorp-withdrawal of Honda and its tech platform.” Without Honda, Hero might struggle to launch path-breaking products like it did in the past.

 

“Hero has money but no technology. This is something that Bajaj is going to take advantage of with its slew of new models blitzkrieg that it has lined up this year,” said Mr Darukhanawala. The Discover ad is in line with Bajaj Auto’s aggressive stance in the market. Last year, one of its TVCs proclaimed that ‘Pulsar sells five times more than any Japanese sports bike in India’. With inputs from Lijee Philip

 

Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

 

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