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Honda CR-V strikes chord with commercial

Honda CR-V, the first ever SUV in the country, is one in a handful of auto ads that defy conventional car-commercial wisdom accrued over ages of smart auto marketing.
Honda CR-V, the first ever SUV in the country, is one in a handful of auto ads that defy conventional car-commercial wisdom accrued over ages of smart auto marketing.
No cannibalistic tribe infested Amazonian jungle or sandy Arabian wasteland in sight. Or even turbulent rivers of the North or stunning beaches fit for a Bond love-tryst for that matter. Hell, we can't even see the white mountains of Gondor on the horizon or the big happy family — offspring, parents and pets and the hitch-hiker they were kind enough to offer a ride to, going on vacation or to the movies or to school. And did we mention the deficiency of leggy lasses and lads. Is this still a car ad let alone an ad for a sports utility vehicle?

This latest commercial for the Honda CR-V, and the first ever for this Japanese car marker's brand of SUV in the country, is one in a handful of auto ads that defy conventional car-commercial wisdom accrued over ages of smart auto marketing.

The commercial is a time lapse sequence of shots of a man sitting still in front of camera. He goes through multiple transformations thanks to the deft hands of stylists in order to represent the many facets of his personality such as the suit, the adventurer, the hero, the player, the chef, the regular guy and many more. The video ends with the line 'One Life. Many Lives.'
A car ad without a long litany of product features and minus the stock footage like landscapes that invariably haunt the auto category? Brand Equity goes under the hood on Honda’s latest

According to Titus Upputuru, national creative director, DentsuMarcom, the agency behind the campaign, this commercial is simply about announcing the arrival of the all-new SUV and re-establishing the brand's connection with a swish set of customers, quite a few are repeat buyers.

The average buyer of the Honda CR-V is one who has achieved, and at quite a Bolt-esque pace, all he set out to achieve — cash and corner office, among other things. Now he has time and funds to explore other interests and the finer things life has to offer. "After 'What do you do', life is more about 'what do you like doing best'," says Upputuru, it could very well be driving around the city in your SUV.

Despite the brand campaigns from across industries flooding our screens, from tablet to telly, there are a couple of reasons why this campaign is particularly significant. For starters, it's the first local commercial video campaign for Honda CRV here.

Previously advertising for this premium class SUV that's not an off-roader was restricted mostly to print advertisements and selective onground and digital activations. However, Honda's decision to launch the video in the market it seems was driven by heightened consumer interest in the utility vehicle segment, the need to trumpet the physical and brand features of the freshly redesigned Honda CR-V and competition, of course.

Auto makers like Maruti, Tata, Mahindra & Mahindra, Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Toyota among others, all with their own utility vehicles ranging from pure off-roaders built for all sorts of terrain to premium UVs more suitable for movie premiers.

Says Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice-president, sales & marketing, Honda Siel Cars India, Honda CR-V is an image builder for Honda in India. "It already is a strong brand and we wanted to enhance and build on that. In the pre-launch stage, we have used Facebook and Twitter. The segment is premium and highly targeted, so we believe highly targeted communication works extremely well," says Sen.

This brings us to the other reason why this commercial is quite different and it is simply the fact that "it wasn't shot in Cape Town" as Upputuru points out, or for that matter any other exotic locale often frequented by ad film crews working on a car account. In fact, the campaign was perhaps also very budget-friendly.

Not all, however, are particularly impressed with it. Manish Bhatt, cofounder of Scarecrow had a moment of déjà vu. "I have seen at least two ideas similar to this one. Both are for cars and both are for Japanese cars. One is a TVC for Toyota featuring Aamir Khan. Also a lot of ads nowadays are employing a similar execution style, like that of the Cannes Lions winner, Dove Evolution."

The film was part of Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. Launched in 2006, the film showed the dramatic change hair and make-up experts and a lot of Photoshop can create when an ordinary girl transforms into a magazine cover girl right before our eyes and in less than 30 seconds. Says Bhatt, "If people can recycle ideas, give me the liberty to recycle my quote, one I used for another déjà vu occasion in the past. ‘The Indian audience is really tolerant. It is the same audience that forgave Bollywood for releasing five Bhagat Singh films within 18 months in the year 2002. (Campaign research courtesy: (name changed) Mahesh Raikar, creative director, Scarecrow. Actual name: Sarvesh Raikar.)"
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