Did A-star need celebrity ‘crutch’?

Did A-star need celebrity ‘crutch’?
Comment E-mail Print Share
First Published: Wed, Feb 18 2009. 01 15 AM IST

Photos: AdEx India
Photos: AdEx India
Updated: Wed, Feb 18 2009. 03 48 PM IST
Brand: Maruti A-star
Agency: Hakuhodo Percept Pvt Ltd
Reviewers: Raghu Bhat and Manish Bhatt, senior vice-presidents and executive creative directors, Contract Advertising India Pvt. Ltd.
Spot: Actor Farhan Akhtar and his colleague get a panic call from a friend. They zip off in a Maruti A-star to help him out. During their drive, the car’sfeatures are showcased. They arrive at a rock show where their friend is being booed. Farhan’s performance rocks the audience. The baseline: Stop@nothing.
Photos: AdEx India
Why we don’t like it: As we watch this ad, questions start sprouting in our minds. So here we go, following our stream of consciousness, James Joyce style. Why does an astoundingly good-looking car such as the A-star need the “crutch” of a good-looking celebrity? Does the celebrity add a layer to the brand or simply divert attention away from it? When Maruti, one of India’s most iconic brands, employs a “current flavour” celebrity such as Farhan, does the consumer decode it as “being contemporary” or a “desperation to be contemporary”?
If one of the tasks is to generate brand buzz, isn’t it better to create original content rather than replay visual stimuli people are familiar with? Shouldn’t the brand idea emanate as much from the attributes of the car as from the lives of consumers? Does the ad lack the product-centricity of classic car advertising such as that for Volvo and Volkswagen? Is the plot too problem-solution? Why is the lighting so bad?
How we would have done it: Celebrities are like heroin. They lead to short-term happiness and long-term grief. So it’s important to use them carefully. For example, the best time to use Farhan would have been before the release of Rock On!
The association of “intelligence” and “progressiveness” would have rubbed off much more strongly. Today, it’s a more shallow association, a marriage of convenience between a celeb who wants to cash in on his success and a brand that seeks instant recall. A brand can’t be built through a marriage of convenience.
Consumers love brands that are confident. Ever seen Harley (Davidson) using a celebrity? A brand idea needs legs rooted in functionality. What are those legs? Mileage, eco-friendliness, ease of handling, what else? After identifying that, we would progress to the brand idea.
One of the things that strikes us about the A-star is its “chunk factor”—a distinctive robustness that translates into a possible brand thought—“being comfortable in your skin”.
As told to Gouri Shah.
gouri.s@livemint.com
Comment E-mail Print Share
First Published: Wed, Feb 18 2009. 01 15 AM IST