Reviewer: Prathap Suthan
Having spent around two decades in advertising, Prathap Suthan, national creative director, Cheil Worldwide, is known best for his India Shining campaign. Suthan has also worked on brands such as Rasna, General Motors and Samsung.
The new campaigns for Maruti show Indians in different situations: looking at a rocket, a luxury boat, a tank. But the only question on their minds is, how much mileage does it give?
What did you think of the campaign?
It certainly doesn’t get more pointed than this—in terms of the message, and in terms of how solidly the company wants to anchor itself. This is definitely a campaign that scuttles the otherwise expected genre of advertising from an older Indian brand. Is it clutter-breaking? Well, without doubt, I think it’s a category-breaking and bold effort. And it drives into a warm and fuzzy part of the incorrigible Indian in all of us.
Bold: When the idea is strong, small mistakes can be forgiven.
Though not superbly made, I’m willing to forgive the slight production glitches, the small detailing errors, and the budgetary lack of gloss in the finish of the ads. When the idea is strong, the audience blurs out the mistakes. You just wait for the killer line to happen, and then you give in to a grin or a guffaw.
How does this campaign compare with other Maruti ads?
If there’s one brand in India that has consistently been admired for great fuel efficiency, it has been Maruti. I remember the commercial of the sardar kid and his little toy car, plus its regional versions. That ad certainly was about fuel efficiency and no other ad appealed more to Indian middle-class cardiac units. This campaign, I think, is an attempt to garner and own the fuel-efficiency space. While most Indians are yet to catch up with the cosmetic and aesthetic boundaries of automotive design, our mass judgement has always revolved around fuel economy. In a country where?fuel prices rise almost every year,?reinforcing?and building up to being the most lauded brand in that area is great strategy.
What should India’s small car brand do to stay relevant?
Tata has redefined the market with the Nano, but that does not compromise anything that Maruti stands for. Maruti is more than just an automobile company. In its almost demure first 800cc
avatar, the nation found a future. The brand occupies more than just a physical share of the market; it has become part of our psyche. There would be almost no family in India whose story doesn’t keep a page aside for that tiny car. More than anything else, there’s certainly a chunk of the car-buying, Indian middle class who will not truck with any other brand. At some level, there’s aspiration still out there and people will not want to buy the cheapest car in the market. Across most of India, owning a car is still the biggest status symbol, and status symbols can’t be the last rung at the bottom of the ladder. I am sure the leadership of Maruti knows exactly what buttons to press.
As told to Gouri Shah.