Opinion: How auto brands moved the marcomm needle in 2022 in India
When it comes to auto brands, what works and what doesn’t is going to rely solely upon the brands’ success in identifying the right medium to take their messaging forward, says the author
Feb 27, 2023 09:59:00 AM | Article | Gaurav Patra Share -
Audi leveraged the immense popularity of Telugu actor Mahesh Babu to endorse its electric SUV, Audi E-Tron
A fiercely competitive world calls for an equally passionate marketing communication strategy. In the modern times, simply grabbing the attention of potential customers is not enough for a brand to thrive – it requires dedicated efforts at maintaining a strong presence amongst the consumers. By representing the voice of its brands, marcomm enables a company to have a dialogue and build relationships with consumers through an eclectic mix of people, places, experiences, events, and emotions, irrespective of the industry.
Being a highly competitive market, the automotives sector was affected by a shortage of semiconductor and disrupted supply chain which amounted to delivery delays. It is, therefore, no mean feat for auto brands to be able to not just stay relevant, but also to gauge trust from consumer groups. 2022 remained a rather remarkable year for the automotive industry in India, which is well reflected by the retail sales numbers.
In the month of November 2022, the Indian auto industry collectively reported a year-on-year growth of nearly 20%, as total vehicle sales stood at 15,58,145 units against the 12,99,716 units sold in the same month the previous year. These statistics strongly indicate the constant growth that the automotive sector is registering in a post-pandemic India, with due credit to the marcomm activities various auto brands are conducting to solidify their presence in the market, with much success.
Electri-fying auto marcomm
Despite the facing hurdles like the global semiconductor shortages, automobile companies have kept the needle moving in 2022 through some of the most creative marcomm strategies. The key focus has remained upon EVs, with a growing impetus for the tech in light of govt-backed programs. However, making EVs attractive to consumers is tricky due to the numerous apprehensions buyers may hold. And auto companies have made this tricky business easy through their marketing campaigns this year.
MG Motor India made a robust statement by roping in Sushil Reddy, IIT Bombay Alumnus and Guinness World Record holder for ‘Longest journey on an electric bicycle’, to spearhead a 6,000-kilometre journey along the Golden Quadrilateral route of India in 70 days on an electric car – the MG ZS EV. The campaign not only highlighted the prowess of MG’s electric vehicle, but also helped the carmaker cement its position as a brand that cares, by raising awareness about clean mobility.
Establishing a cultural connect
Understanding the audience and establishing a strong connection with them plays an important role in determining the success or failure of a marketing campaign. Cultural elements like folklore, festivals and art forms are some excellent ways of making the audience inherently relate with the brand, since they showcase the brand’s alignment to the core culture of a demography. Regional is the new global.
Tata Motors leveraged the festival of Durga Puja, which also marks the onset of the festive season in India (and the big purchases that rally along), to launch the #DriveTheGoodInYou campaign that featured Bengali superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee. The campaign not only succeeded in connecting with the audience in West Bengal beautifully by capturing the positive vibes and mood of celebration, but also promoted Tata’s New Forever range of cars and SUVs by urging customers to express their inner good by drawing parallels between Durga Puja’s overarching theme, which symbolises the victory of good over evil.
On the luxury mobility front, Audi leveraged the immense popularity of Telugu actor Mahesh Babu to endorse its electric SUV, Audi E-Tron. The first all-electric car by the German manufacturer was delivered to the actor by the head of Audi India, Balbir Singh Dhillon. The extent of the impact the activity generated can be assessed from the fact that Mahesh Babu’s pictures with the car went viral on social media, helping the brand to relay its message of electric mobility to a vast audience, mostly comprising of the fans of the Telugu superstar.
The way ahead
With rapid digitisation, the marcomm space is evolving at a faster pace than ever. When it comes to auto brands, what works and what doesn’t is going to rely solely upon the brands’ success in identifying the right medium to take their messaging forward. As social media continues to climb up the ranks of sources of information, it is imperative for brands to make the best use of digital tools available at their disposal. Marketing innovation that looks and feels less like branding and more like a meaningful relationship will define the marcomm activities in 2023, especially for automobile players.
(The author is co-founder, Value360 Communication.)