Meet the new dream merchants

Last Updated: Sun, Jul 08, 2012 19:51 hrs

Honda’s new corporate campaign tries to position the company as a purveyor of dreams rather than a company that produces simple daily-commute tools

Here’s how most of the two-wheeler advertising unfolds on television: a lot of shots of the vehicle from different angles, either zipping all over the place at breakneck speed (to show control/maneuverability), or cruising down open roads with not a soul in sight (to connote luxury or lifestyle or whatever). It’s all been gleaming metal and burning rubber, or good old-fashioned patriotism.

That’s why the new television commercial of Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI), a subsidiary of world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer, Japan’s Honda Motor Corporation, stands out. It doesn’t sell speed or style. It dwells on the dreams and aspiration of the everyday Indian and says your Honda two-wheeler will help you reach for your dreams. In that sense your two-wheeler is a purveyor of dreams, an enabler of sorts rather than a simple daily-commute tool. “Sach kar denge sapne” in short.

Conceptualised by Dentsu, this is the first corporate campaign from HMSI after Honda split with Hero MotoCorp (after a 26-year partnership) announced in end 2010. HMSI has roped in Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar as its brand ambassador, who is also the narrator in the television commercial. In contrast, erstwhile partner Hero MotoCorp’s corporate campaign said “Hum main hai hero” or there’s a hero in all of us, in its first piece of communication post split unveiled last year.

So what took Honda so much time to put out its message? YS Guleria, vice-president (marketing), HMSI, says 2012 is going to be a significant year for HMSI in India. This is the year when the company plans to stress on the three-‘C’ strategy — that is, communicate, connect and create — for India. “We had unveiled the Honda 2020 vision during the 11th Auto Expo in January this year. However, we wanted to break the corporate campaign right before the launch of Honda’s 110 cc Dream Yuga motorcycle, our first product in the 75-125 cc commuter segment in India,” he adds.

The brief to HMSI’s creative agency, Dentsu, was to synchronise Honda’s core values with the values that Indians hold dear, and structure its communication in a manner that it empathises with the dreams of every Indian. This campaign will run for about six months. The 90-second TVC has been directed by Amit Sharma and produced by Praful Sharma. “The slogan, Sach kar denge sapne, talks about the determination that all of us have to make our dreams come true,” says Titus Upputuru, national creative director, Dentsu Marcom. “One of the first questions we are asked is, ‘What do you want to become when you grow up?’ The creative idea takes a leap from there and shows an Indian who is in a hurry, hurry to make his dreams come true.”

Globally, Honda’s communication philosophy is pitched on the ‘The power of dreams’. “We see the world not as it is, but as it could be. We see the world through the eyes of dreamers. Because we are a company founded by a dreamer (Soichiro Honda). And we are a company built on dreams,” says the company’s global website. In a sense “Sach kar denge sapne” is an adaptation of the global communication plank.

Honda achieves 10 million customer mark
Honda announces new strategic corporate direction, new brand ambassador (Akshay Kumar)and launches first ever mass motorcycle Dream Yuga in India.
Ends the year with becoming the number 3 player in Indian two-wheeler market and number 2 in Indian domestic two-wheeler market by growing 27 per cent to sell a total of 21.07 lakh units
Unveils seven new products at the Auto Expo 2012, of which five are Indian mass production models and two international models. Mass production motorcycle (Dream Yuga, CBR 150R, New CB Shine, New CBR 250R), automatic scooters (New Dio), big bikes (VT 1300CX, new CBR 1000RR Fireblade)

Unveiled India-specific brand identity at the Auto Expo 2012 — Sach kar denge sapne, thus aligning HMSI — Only Honda in India with Honda’s global slogan ‘The Power of Dreams’
Announces upcoming third factory at Narsapuram, Karnataka. Honda expands its annual two-wheeler production capacity in India through expansion of second plant (Tapukara industrial area of Rajasthan) and construction of third plant in June 2011.

Then, as Upputuru says, “The brand needed to come out of the shadows of a global brand iconography. It needed to have a chat with India. It needed to say hello to India.” So the ad borrows vignettes from everyday life in the country. It shows people rushing out of their homes in the mornings and riding their Honda motorcycles and scooters to reach their respective destinations. “By capturing the rush hour, we wanted to say that Honda gives wind beneath the wings to help everyone reach their destinations. To resonate with people from across the country we travelled across different cities and captured the human wave that took to the roads every single day.”

To put things in perspective, the combined share of Indian players in the two-wheeler market in India-that is Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Auto and TVS Motors-stood at 78 per cent in 2011-12, according to data provided by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. HMSI led the growth chart with a share of 15 per cent of the market, Yamaha had 2.6 per cent and Suzuki 2.5 per cent. Overall, two-wheeler sales stood at 13.43 million units in 2011-12.

Entry-level commuter bikes account for around 70 per cent of thedomestic market in a country that sold over 10 million bikes in the last financial year, second only to China. Honda expects India to account for 30 per cent of its global motorcycle revenues by 2020, up from 13 per cent currently,

For the records, Honda has also announced fresh investment Rs 20 billion since the spilt as it wants to position itself as the vehicle of the common Indian, which is in line with its corporate campaign. HMSI’s 110-cc Dream Yuga motorcycle will start at Rs 44,642 and will compete with Hero’s Splendor brand, India’s biggest-selling bike. HMSI has launched another campaign, ‘Achcha lagta hai’, for its bike Honda CB Shine to highlight the pride of ownership enjoyed by the 15 lakh owners and reinforces its status as the number one bike in the 125-cc category.

Honda has now two manufacturing units (Manesar and Rajasthan) with the combined capacity of 2.8 million units. With its third factory in Karnataka, that will be operational during spring 2013, the capacity will rise up to 4 million units. HMSI is also working to increase penetration, expand its network from the existing 1,500 touch points to 2,000 this year, while doing up its existing dealerships with the new Honda logo (the wing).

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