Power and Beauty

In a new spot, the brand ditches car shots for some pro­found im­agery.

The Brand Reporter - - EDITORIAL | CONTENTS - By Sankalp Dik­shit sankalp.dik­shit@afaqs.com

Who said you can’t mix an ar­ray of so­cio-cul­tural is­sues by splash­ing them up with pow­er­ful vi­su­als and in the process some­how cre­ate an au­to­mo­bile ad which is meant to raise eye­brows? Well, Czech au­to­mo­bile man­u­fac­turer Skoda has done just that in its re­cent ad for the brand’s newly launched SUV — ‘Skoda Ko­diaq’. In a dra­matic nar­ra­tive, the ad tells us that, ‘power should be beau­ti­ful’.

The ad utilises var­i­ous in­stances to por­tray how a thing of beauty can present it­self as an ugly twin. Be it the Jal­lian­wala Bagh mas­sacre, Dandi March, French Rev­o­lu­tion, an ever widen­ing eco­nomic gap or an acid at­tack; the ad weaves in all of this and more with a haunt­ing melody (There’s al­ways two roads) that plays in the back­ground.

The one-and-a-half-minute-long ad has been crafted and con­cep­tu­alised by Publi­cis In­dia. Bobby Pawar, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and chief cre­ative of­fi­cer - South Asia, Publi­cis In­dia, tells afaqs! Reporter that de­spite work­ing on au­to­mo­bile brands like Volk­swa­gen and Jaguar, “...this is one of the re­ally spe­cial ones.” He ex­plains, “When Ji­gar (Fer­nan­des) first nar­rated the idea, I didn’t hear him out com­pletely, didn’t need to! We both knew that if we did this right, it could be great. The best part is that it was bang on the brief ‘use what is unique about the Skoda Ko­diaq to add lus­tre to the Skoda brand.’ The Skoda Ko­diaq is an SUV that achieves har­mony be­tween great power and great de­sign. This idea brings that to life in a man­ner that is cul­tur­ally rel­e­vant to these un­cer­tain times. It strikes a note of op­ti­mism by show­ing us a dif­fer­ent path.”

How­ever, the ad deals with sen­si­tive is­sues which may im­pact each viewer dif­fer­ently. For in­stance the shot where we see an acid at­tack sur­vivor can eas­ily be­come a topic of dis­cus­sion or a Twit­ter war. So, was there any ap­pre­hen­sion or dilemma while go­ing ahead with this ad since it’s a risky propo­si­tion and can swing ei­ther way? Pawar elab­o­rates, “This may sound disin­gen­u­ous, but there was noth­ing but en­thu­si­asm at both the client’s and ours. We be­lieved that peo­ple will see the good in what we had to say, that hope will win over cyn­i­cism and by all in­di­ca­tions, we were not wrong to think so.”

Skoda ven­tured into the In­dian mar­ket in the year 2001. Tarun Jha, head of mar­ket­ing and prod­uct, Skoda Auto In­dia, says in a press note, “The Skoda Ko­diaq is a beau­ti­ful car. The word ‘beauty’ is not usu­ally associated with SUVs, which tends to be associated more with ‘power’. This con­flict led us to the propo­si­tion that ‘Power should al­ways be beau­ti­ful’ and cul­mi­nated in a larger mes­sage that ap­peals to the good­ness in all of us to use our pow­ers beau­ti­fully.”

HIT OR MISS?

A closer look and one can spot that the ad fea­tures min­i­mal demo shots of the swanky new SUV, which is go­ing on sale, thereby re­fus­ing to be cat­e­gorised in the set def­i­ni­tion of a ‘stan­dard’ au­to­mo­bile ad. afaqs! Reporter asked the ex­perts if in today’s day and age, when brands spoon feed view­ers, is the desi con­sumer ready to ab­sorb such higher-or­der con­cepts in a car brand’s ad?

We got in touch with KV Srid­har aka Pops, founder and chief cre­ative of­fi­cer, Hy­per Col­lec­tive, who terms the ad as “beau­ti­ful and bril­liant”. He says, “It (ad) does work for the brand. There is no rule that au­to­mo­bile ad­ver­tis­ing should have a car right from the be­gin­ning and I think in today’s time, brands are be­com­ing com­modi­ties and there is no dif­fer­ence be­tween one car and an­other. They are all the same!”

He elab­o­rates, “...dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion is the key how­ever; apart from price point there is ab­so­lutely no dif­fer­ence. So how do you sell a car when there is hardly any dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion? If Skoda says - I have got an in­tel­li­gent nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem - then some­body else will also say the same. So where is the dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion? This is why most of the brands in the world are shift­ing to­wards val­ues. When you can get the same set of at­tributes in an­other car say, the Rhino, then why would you buy a Skoda? There is no ra­tio­nal rea­son ex­cept for val­ues, which makes all the dif­fer­ence.”

Harmeet Singh, se­nior cre­ative di­rec­tor, Ser­vi­ce­plan In­dia, tells that he did not ex­pect the ad to un­furl as an au­to­mo­bile ad. He adds, “At first glance, the com­mu­ni­ca­tion seems to be for a so­cial cause es­pe­cially when vi­su­als of Jal­lian­wala Bagh and Mother Teresa were shown. The ad is a mis­fit for the cat­e­gory, but it may just work for them since it is dis­tinct and touches upon a topic that we, as In­di­ans, have felt and seen in our daily lives, but has been scarcely nar­rated in the brand space.” ■

“There was noth­ing but en­thu­si­asm at both the client’s and ours. We be­lieved peo­ple will see the good in what we had to say, that hope will win over cyn­i­cism and by all in­di­ca­tions, we were not wrong to think so.”

BOBBY PAWAR

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