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Ford, Maruti plan initiatives to expand reach, woo car buyers

02-February-2004
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Ford, Maruti plan initiatives to expand reach, woo car buyers

Even as Ford India Ltd is planning to expand its dealership network, Maruti Udyog Ltd is stepping up its corporate brand-building exercise to promote its entire range of cars. As part of its marketing strategy, Ford India is planning to increase its dealer network from 88 to 105 in the near future.

On the company’s future plans, says Ford India vice-president (marketing & sales) Vinay Piparsania: “At present, we have 88 dealer facilities at 71 locations across the country. We are extending our reach with 105 dealerships at 106 locations soon. In Mumbai, we will be setting up a dealer facility at Thane in the near future.” At present, the company has three dealer facilities at major locations across the city.

In addition, the auto major is also planning to offer value-added services to members of its privilege club called ‘The Blue Oval’. For the purpose, the company is looking at marketing tie-ups with companies which market apparel and lifestyle products.‘‘ With these marketing tie-ups, we can offer discounts on various products to our club members. As for our 10-city roadshows, we have covered Chandigarh, Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad,” he adds.

Across the road, Maruti Udyog Ltd has turned its marketing focus to corporate television campaigns to promote its entire range of vehicles. In fact, the company is in the process of rolling out a new corporate television campaign which features the ‘new kid on the block’—Manik Dhingra who is now called ‘Maruti Puttar’. As for the rationale behind the launch of a second television commercial featuring the same child model, says Maruti Udyog Ltd general manager (marketing) Ravi G Bhatia, “After seeing the response to our first TVC, we wanted to leverage the brand recall of the earlier commercial, so we took forward the creative plank to highlight the fact that ‘Maruti family is a happy one’ in the second phase.”

Further, Mr Bhatia informs that the company had carried out an extensive research before designing a new strategy for its brands. According to Mr Bhatia, “the company’s research findings clearly showed how most people buy a car after numerous consultations with friends and family members. Which is why we opted for the family route.”

Increasingly, Indian marketers are using child models to promote many brands which are not really targeted at kids. So why did Maruti opt for a child model in its new TVC? “The reason is simple. Young boys are very curious about cars and they certainly influence the buying decision of parents. It’s finally a family decision to choose the right car. In fact, we have used child models in quite a few old TVCs too,” reasons Mr Bhatia.

To popularise its brand ‘Alto’ the company is running a host of online ad campaigns in addition to its nationwide corporate ad campaign.

At present, Maruti’s advertising is handled by four ad agencies which include, Lowe, Kapital and Contract. Its media buying and planning is handled by Initiative Media.

With the economy looking up, major auto companies are now looking at various ways and means to woo prospective car buyers across the country. And the focus is clearly on ‘effective marketing plans’.

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