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Brand Yatra: CEAT Tyres - From 'born tough' to contemporary

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Brand Yatra: CEAT Tyres - From 'born tough' to contemporary

Launched in 1958 in India, CEAT Tyres has successfully held its own over all these years. Having established itself in the consumers’ minds with its tagline ‘Born Tough’, the tyre manufacturer has now gone all contemporary and adopted a new logo, which means the good old ‘rhino’ has trotted off somewhere. Interestingly, CEAT is now more popularly associated with its CEAT Cricket Ratings.

Brand: CEAT Tyres
Company: RPG Enterprises
Past agency and current agency: O&M

History of CEAT Tyres

CEAT International was established in 1924 at Turino in Italy and manufactured cables for telephones and railways. In 1958, CEAT entered India and created CEAT Tyres of India Ltd in collaboration with the Tata Group. In 1982, the RPG Group took over CEAT Tyres of India, and in 1990, the company was renamed CEAT Ltd. The ups and downs notwithstanding, CEAT’s journey in India has been rather successful and they are looking ahead. CEAT’s current mileage: It manufactures over 10 million tyres every year and enjoys a major market share in the truck market.

Current positioning

Commenting on the rebranding, Arnab Banerjee, Executive Director - Sales, Marketing & Outsourcing, CEAT Tyres, said, “With rebranding exercise in 2008, we have changed our logo in order to make CEAT brand look more youthful, dynamic and premium. The Blue colour reflects the solidity and trust that CEAT enjoys. The Orange colour and the stylised lettering bring warmth to the brand and helps connect better to the youth. The new CEAT logo has no tagline, whereas ‘Born Tough’ was associated with the old CEAT logo.”

“In the past, we have followed the concept of umbrella branding, which is expected to evolve into category branding with focus on star products of respective categories. Now, our efforts will be to build category brands like CEAT bike tyres, CEAT SUV radials, CEAT truck tyres, etc. through advertisements and communication specifically in those categories. We also spend significant amounts of money on CEAT Cricket Rating, which is the most salient cricket rating property in the country, enjoying very high credibility,” he added.

Banerjee further said, “While being true to the core values of the mother brand (CEAT), we are planning to branch out into category level branding, which relate to the specific category TGs. The reason to buy has a strong rational base. The tone and manner is more relevant to the 25-year olds and below, which constitute a major portion of CEAT’s TG.”

According to him, the one quality that had made the logo change ad endearing was its direct, no-nonsense communication put forth in a cheeky way. The two-way communication got noticed because of its rough edges. He added, “CEAT spends Rs 40-50 crore in a year on various ATL and BTL activities. This is slated to increase with CEAT increasing shares in the passenger tyre categories.”

Agency’s take

Ajay Menon, Client Servicing Director, O&M, said, “CEAT has taken some non-populist measures like minimising its presence on the advertising and media front (2001-07). CEAT came back in the media post a lot of changes in the recent past, most of them internal (operational, cultural, product-wise, etc.) to make it a far more youthful, aggressive and contemporary company, which was evident from the resent nationwide campaign – change. CEAT clearly wants to establish itself as an image leader in the category and is working towards owning values like smart, stylish, trendy, youthful and cocky in a right sort of way.”

While admitting that CEAT had been out of media for the major part of last decade, when stalwarts like MRF and Apollo and international giants like Bridgestone and Michelin had created a niche for themselves, Menon said, “We can only create a space for ourselves in this cluttered environment if we are able to create insight based communication, which is relevant to the consumer without being preachy. Our intention is to communicate the proposition in a quirky, tongue-in-cheek manner, which would relate well with the consumers of today.”

Onlooker’s perspective

Sangeeta N, President and ECD, RK Swamy BBDO, noted, “Of what I can recall about CEAT, they are associated with cricket with their CEAT Cricket Rating. This is possibly because of their positioning ‘Born tough’. The company, however, has changed their logo to be contemporary. As an onlooker it is, however, unclear what the new graphics mean and what the position and the tagline is, particularly because the rhino is lost. Considering the deteriorating state of Indian roads, the original position of ‘Born Tough’, perhaps was never more relevant. Perhaps this will be woven back in and made relevant for today’s consumer. Also, the communication may get targeted by segment. There doesn’t seem to have been any communication to this effect in the recent past.”

Pratap Suthan, National Creative Director, Cheil Communications, commented, “My overall layman conception of the brand CEAT is the line ‘Born tough’ and the rhino. Over the years that CEAT was visible, it has slipped into my system and retained its position as a tough, durable trye brand. And despite the fact that other Indian players like MRF, Apollo, etc., were around, CEAT had a distinct place and position. You could look at CEAT and somewhere you’d get the assurance of a serious brand, and tyres that you could depend on.”

He added, “However, somehow, over the years, they sort of vanished from public media. I mean, thinking about a tyre is the last thing on my mind (and I am not a taxi driver, fleet owner, garage tycoon) and to be completely missing from my radar is not good. Especially so, with better and more international automobile brands and models coming into our country, this is the wrong time to be missing in action. As a confession, until this moment, there’s been nothing to prod me about CEAT, and I truly was under the impression that the brand either sold out, or was assimilated into the bowels of another hungry brand.”

“One another personal perspective is that a tyre brand, when it comes into consideration, needs to give me confidence. It’s got to be a visible name. And it’s got to give me an underlying sense of security, safety, and toughness. After all, I am depending on those four rolling wheels to take me home safe and sound. Any communication that pummels me with the values, much like CEAT used to do, would only have gone into reinforcing these generic foundations of a tyre. Unfortunately, the ad for the new logo change that they ran did nothing to build or reinforce tyre values. Instead, they came through me as a fickle, young, and slightly weaker brand. I have no idea what this did to other drivers and car owners. But to me, they corroded into the rhino values of the brand and took away everything that I thought about CEAT. I certainly want a tough tyre image driving me, not a pimple-faced teenager. Bring the rhino back,” Suthan emphasised.


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