A Wild Chase

Written by Sukalp Sharma | Sukalp Sharma | Updated: Oct 30 2012, 02:41am hrs
Campaign: Unleash the Hero within

Brand: Heros premium segment range (Xtreme, Impulse, Hunk, Karizma ZMR)

Company: Hero MotoCorp

Agency: FCB Ulka

The Campaign

The two-minute TV commercial opens with Ranbir Kapoor, handcuffed and chained to a rock, being thrown into a river. The ad then goes back in time by a day and shows a hot and seductive damsel walking into a lounge, with a bulky villainous man in tow. She slips her phone to Kapoor and asks him to leave the place with her. Next, theres a wild chase with Kapoor and the woman on a Hero bike being pursued by the man and his accomplice who are driving SUVs. Over the course of the chase, Kapoor and the woman hop on to four different Hero bikes - Xtreme, Impulse, Hunk, Karizma ZMR, all belonging to Heros premium segment. But finally with one of Kapoors friends caught by the two men, the duo turn themselves in. Next, Kapoor is shown standing on the edge of a bridge, handcuffed counting his final moments. The villain allows the woman to say a final goodbye to Kapoor. She goes and kisses Kapoor who is then pushed off the bridge. Cut to the present, submerged in the water Kapoor opens his mouth and the key to his handcuffs comes out (the only plausible explanation of this being that the young woman passed on the key to him when they kissed). He then frees himself and is shown standing on the same bridge when the woman calls him and asks whether hes ready for another game. Why not he replies and is shown jumping off the bridge onto a cargo vessel below thats carrying Hero MotoCorp container boxes. Unleash the Hero within is the tagline that appears on screen as he jumps.

Our Take:

Two minutes. Yes, its a two-minute long TV commercial and is something of a kind weve never seen before from Hero MotoCorp (or even in its Hero Honda avatar). Its different, even brave, but does that mean its good Unfortunately for Hero, the answer is a definitive no. From Dhak Dhak Go! to Hum mein hai Hero, the company has had anthem heavy commercials forming a substantive part of its brand identity. And were taking the liberty of excluding bike-specific ads here as the ad under consideration too is a larger brand communication. But this ad has a cinematic treatment with a loosely threaded James Bond-like story and the feel of a big-budget, star-studded Hollywood thriller. So you have a damsel in distress, you have a hunk, a sophisticated villain, exotic European locales, high-speed chases, action, drama, romance, adventure, etc., etc. Not to forget an overwhelming and distinctly film background score. So it has the masala quotient but not much else.

More than an ad of a motorcycle company, it looks more like Ranbir Kapoors big launch as its brand ambassador. After Hero and Honda parted ways, the Hum mein hai Hero campaign did well to establish the new identity of the brand in an extremely emotive and Indian way, if one may call it that. That sure was a successful first step, but the same cant be said about the second one. Maybe they wanted to position the brand as aspirational, youthful, zestful, glamourous, and so on. But theyve actually ended up compromising on substance in favour of looks.

For one, while the campaign seeks to showcase its premium bike range, the bikes themselves get lost in the action-drama-romance hoopla of the commercial. When four bikes are pushed into a communication thats already loaded with so many other elements, it doesnt come as a surprise if the audience miss the products to a large extent. The ad doesnt do justice to any of the four products and ends up being just too diffused and scattered. They could have done it better with a one-product-per-campaign plan or making it an out-and-out brand communication without trying to focus too much on a few products.

Even in the ad, there are tens of questions that can be asked about the, well, story. But lets not get too much into it, for we must not forget that were basically talking about an ad and not a movie. Probably Hero as well as Ulka forgot that bit. Its an enjoyable watch still, has the glamour and a star who would make heads turn, and of course, it sets the tone for the soon to be released James Bond thriller Skyfall.

Ratings: **