Car brands have a peculiar grammar. Most car ads have two messages – one for the brand that they are advertising and the other for the mother brand that owns the brand. Theoretically, the mother brand statement should have an impact on the overall brand message of each sub-brand. Theoretically, the one difference every sub-brand should make is to that overall mother brand appeal. With every car brand having multiple brands with multiple configurations at multiple price points aimed at drivers at different life stages, the mother brand appeal needs to be built sub-brand by sub-brand.
Renault signs off with “Passion for Life”. It has just unveiled a new TVC with Ranbir Kapoor and music by AR Rehman on celebrating life, being good and surprising people. The word passion gets spoken in the commercial, it does build a sense of liveliness for the brand. The same liveliness is not reflected in the other commercial that they are running for Lodgy.
While on life, Fiat signs off all brand messages with “Hello Life”. For a brand that has the kind of design and brand heritage that Fiat has, the car maker doesn’t capture any of that in India. The overall mother brand appeal does not guide what the brand does.
Maruti Suzuki is the third brand that builds on Life. “Way of Life” defines Maruti Suzuki in the most apt way. The brand is omnipresent, defines what cars mean to India. Should the brand be left at one indulgent habit the country has or can there be something more that the brand can interpret and build in advertising?
Hyundai promises “New Thinking. New Possibilities”. Ideally with a big brand tag like that, Hyundai should have a slightly inspirational tone, always building on future, always showing an unexplored angle of life. The brand delivers the thinking and possibility in design and looks, but not so much in the sub-brand communication.
“Find New Roads” from Chrysler is a promise that comes from exploring mind sets. For a category that is built on emotion of mobility, finding new roads is a very evocative promise. Yet the brand does very little in its sub-brand communication to build on the feeling of exploration and mobility.
These are not the only brands; most car brands, save for Tata, have a two-layered brand communication strategy. The German brands do it slightly differently; they build the overall appeal for the brand and not for the individual sub-brands, making the overall brand stronger and desirable.
What if the car brands actually were true to the mother brand appeals? Would the category become far more insightful?