New Delhi: Four years after being pulled back from the production line, Hyundai’s comeback kid Santro no longer needs Bollywood brand ambassador Shah Rukh Khan to power its advertisement campaign. The once-tall-boy family car, say executives, now has the celebrity firepower of its own to match SRK’s.
Hyundai Motor Co., which entered India with Santro in 1998, has tweaked its marketing strategy to focus on small towns and rural areas while promoting the new version of the iconic car brand. Santro was discontinued in 2014.
Aiming to grab market share in the small car segment from Maruti Suzuki—its wide range includes the Alto, WagonR and Celerio—the South Korean car maker has mounted a massive advertising campaign targeted at families and first-time buyers.
Unlike the original Santro ads which rode on SRK’s popularity, the new Santro advertisements are devoid of star power, focusses instead on the consumer and the product.
In a bid to position the new Santro as ‘country’s favourite family car’, the 40-second long television ad features a young family of three zipping through the colourful states of the country.
The ad is currently being promoted across all general entertainment, news and music channels.
Customers have evolved, as has the new Santro, said Puneet Anand, senior general manager (marketing) and group head, Hyundai Motor India Ltd.
“In fact, Santro has become a celebrity in itself. Moreover, we want the new Santro to be associated with a family image instead of a Bollywood celebrity. Therefore, we have decided to not feature Khan in any of our print or television ads. It is people and family driven advertising," he said.
Even the scale of the campaign is much larger than the original Santro launch, with new media platforms such as digital and social media taking a huge chunk of the ad budget.
“Sixty-five percent of customers who buy cars in India already have completed their research online, therefore our major focus is on digital interventions. There’s lot of focus on media reviews and online videos where the car is being talked about," said Anand.
At a starting price of ₹ 3.89 lakh ex-showroom, Hyundai opened online bookings on 10 October and has received 23,500 bookings so far.
Apart from digital, the automaker is also leveraging outdoor advertising which work best in small towns and rural India—parts that continue to drive auto sales in the country.
“Santro is going to be a strong car not only for the metro market but also for rural. We are starting a ‘float activity’ where a van will be travelling with a Santro and all the television ads will be showcased to rural buyers till the month of December creating awareness about the product. We are putting up 267 hoardings only in the rural areas, in local languages," said Anand.
Hyundai’s 375-strong dealership network is another area where promotional events are being organised by inviting local celebrities.
“Santro will have two spaces to operate in—urban and rural. All of us are excited about the rural market because of its immense untapped opportunity—that is the space dominated by Maruti Suzuki. While in the urban markets, the obsession with Maruti is less in rural areas it is high.
Rural mobile vans and outdoor will help them penetrate the smaller markets. The only missing element is radio which is understated yet powerful medium," said Harish Bijoor, brand strategy expert and founder of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.