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Ad Review: More story than substance for Mahindra XUV

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Ad Review: More story than substance for Mahindra XUV

Most of the quotes written on truth of life convey a common message: On your deathbed, you wouldn’t remember what grades you earned in college, how many salary raises you got, when your promotions happened or how well you did in business as compared to your rival; what you would remember are the experiences that touched you the most, the time you spent with your loved ones and the crazy things you tried in your life. While everyone is aware of the truth, with hectic schedules and the daily grind of life, most of us forget to just head out, have fun, make the most of what’s around us and have experiences that become stories.

Mahindra XUV 500, touted as the new ‘global’ SUV from the Mahindra stable, urges one to step out, break the monotonous grind, create some ‘unique’ stories and share them with others. Mahindra has launched the first theme commercial for the car to coincide with the second phase of bookings for the ‘most wanted’ bold beauty.

The Brief:

Mahindra introduced XUV 500 as its ‘global’ SUV in September last year, launching the vehicle in international markets like South Africa, along with India. The main brief for the theme campaign was to showcase XUV 500 in a truly world class manner, said Vivek Nayer, Senior Vice President – Marketing, Automotive Division, Mahindra & Mahindra. He added, “XUV 500 is our first global SUV and thus we wanted to create advertising which had international appeal and world class production values. Everything, like actors, crew, budgets and locations, were aligned to that thought. The main consumer insight that went behind creating the commercial was that today people want to have more and more experiences in their life. It’s not money that makes you rich today; your stories, your experiences are the new currencies that make you a richer person. This is not a product ad, it’s a lifestyle positioning. It’s an ad which is clutter breaking and pushes the envelope of traditional automobile advertising.”

Sharing the creative execution of the brief, Robby Mathew, National Creative Director, Interface Communication, the agency that has created the campaign, said, “XUV 500 is the most ambitious project of Mahindra. The advertising had to be in line with its truly global appeal. The trend that was identified in India and also reflected globally was the trend of accumulating experiences. Men, women, everyone today is greedy of new experiences – experiences that lead to beautiful stories. But while many dream of these experiences, there are few who turn them true. We are giving people a call for action, a call for living, a call for life – a call to turn their dreams into reality, full of experiences and stories with their new SUV. That’s why we don’t have a tagline, but a wish line - ‘May your life be full of stories’.”

The Execution:

Shot in Thailand with an international crew, the commercial explores the journey of a young man scared of eating carrots because of an unusual experience he had in the past. He shares with his friends the story of being lured by a bunch of gorgeous women in the jungle for a bath. The fantasy turns sour when he realises that he has actually become an ingredient for their carrot soup. One of the women, however, falls for the man and escapes with him in his XUV 500. The escape shows the speed, features and deadly looks of the giant in full force.

Sharing more on the treatment of the film, Mathew added, “We gave the escape segment in the film a Hollywood chase kind of treatment. We wanted to show the action, the physical body, the energy that’s synonymous with every Mahindra vehicle.”

The commercial ends with the voiceover: ‘May your life be full of stories. The Cheetah inspired XUV 500’, establishing the theme of ‘stories’ behind the campaign.

Media Mix

The campaign, which is being promoted online and on television, will run for about four weeks for the entire month of February. It would be heavily promoted on all English channels, including news and business channels. The commercial is also being promoted on YouTube and has garnered close to 2 lakh clicks already. The channel also hosts other videos like the making of the commercial. A contest is also being run on the official site for Mahindra XUV - – where winners stand to win a coffee table book by Mahindra.

While Interface Communication is the creative AoR, Lodestar UM is media agency and Hungama is working on the digital mandate for Mahindra.

Inspired by the ‘Stories’?

We asked industry experts if the story of ‘stories’ impressed them, this is what they had to say:

Subroto Pradhan, VP & CSD, JWT, was of the view that while the premise of telling and hearing stories was not new, it did lend to an interesting plot. However, he found the execution a bit too complicated. He remarked, “Looks like the riddle of albatross has gone wrong somewhere in this one. The carrot, the cannibal women, the hunger, the prey, the desertion of the tribe by one who experiences the machine and the guy escaping alive to tell the story about how he hates carrots! Oh boy, it seems too much for the poor viewer. By the end of it, one is struggling to figure out what exactly happened and what the brand is trying to say. If the idea is simple and fresh, it can easily transcend geographies and make people feel the power. But if it fails to connect, it remains a problem across the markets even if the intent is to go international. The clutter breaking ability first starts from the freshness and the simplicity of an idea, backed up by brilliant execution. Somewhere this one has missed the mark. But, who cares for the ad in any case when you pre-book three month’s production in three days flat. Such is the power of greatly designed product backed by great pricing.”

Priti Nair of Curry nation found the commercial ‘strictly okay’, adding further, “It isn’t something you haven't seen before in terms of situation - man caught by tribals has been done before. The thought of using an insignificant thing like a carrot in a long drawn story is nice, but wish it was not done so trying hard to be serious. The casting should have been more textured than correct. Also, I didn’t find it hugely engaging the way it is executed. The story could be more involving, entertaining at least. I don’t think you want to watch it over and over again - the nuances for that are missing.”

Prathap Suthan, Chief Creative Officer, iYogi, felt that the ad didn’t live up to the image of the SUV. He shared, “Looking at the Mahindra XUV 500, I thought finally, here was one vehicle that actually veered miles away from the rudimentary aesthetics of the Mahindra range. And in my eyes, it had sort of aligned itself admirably alongside exotic ruggedness. But the ad and its forced wannabe titbits unfortunately reduce the first modern star of Indian automotive renaissance into a side act.”

When asked whether the ad would appeal to an international audience, he replied, “You are talking about markets that have been fed on the juiciest of SUV advertising, which have for long years pounded people with the most hazardous of plots and the most breathtaking of landscapes. In this film, however, everything distracts. Just who is that woman who drives him out of the jungle, who walks into the restaurant, and who is perennially hungry? Is she going to cook him again? Or is that supposed to be a raunchy feast she is suggesting? Is she also a midget Amazon? Why is this film about the man and not his machine? Why is the end VO so lifelessly dead? Too many unnecessary onions I feel. For such a differentiated vehicle, even 30 seconds of unmoving stillness would have had more drool value. Like its print ad. I really thought the film would be an adrenaline pumping tribute to speed and growl. The cheetah deserved it. But now it’s saddled with a pumpkin.”

Our Opinion
The ad does justice to the ‘head turner’ looks of Mahindra XUV 500. Fast and racy shots of the machine, the beautiful tribal goddesses and an intriguing story make for a good one time watch. But once the carrot story is known, would someone want to see it again (apart from enjoying the beauties) is questionable? However, Mahindra can bank on the campaign idea to engage users asking them their stories that can be incorporated in future campaigns.


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