#BrandSaga: Bajaj Auto- An unstoppable Journey

This week we walk down the memory lane with the brand who personified all it’s products to etch an impressive mark in the conusmers’ heart. Here we traverse through Bajaj Auto’s advertising journey and how it owned the auto market.

“Hamara Kal, Hamara Aaj. Naye Bharat ki nayi tasweer. Buland Bharat ki buland tasweer” – Hamara Bajaj…

Needless to say, Bajaj Auto has been riding with us on the highway of our lives since last 73 years – up and strong. Though we miss the ‘Hamara Bajaj’ moment on our television sets today,  the company has revived its spirit in its new positioning ‘World’s Favourite Indian’ which was unveiled a few days ago. Further to the announcement the company is also believed to debut on early this year, 2019- too late than never.

The Accelerating Start

Touted to be the leading and one of the oldest manufacturers of two-wheelers in India, Jamnalal Bajaj sowed the seeds for the company in November 1944 in Rajasthan. Initially named as M/S Bachraj Trading Corporation Private Limited, Bajaj Auto started off with importing the vehicles and later manufacturing them by setting up in-house plants post-1959.

It was in 1960 that the decade-old brand chose to come under the spotlight by launching the very first scooter Vespa 150 and then in the 70s by foraying into manufacturing three-wheeler carriers. Bajaj was still settling on the advertising terms while doing its bit on print and radio.


When ‘Chetak’ roared – The Birth of ‘Hamara Bajaj’

Consumers who looked at  Bajaj as one of them since its early times would be very well versed with the history of  ‘Hamara Bajaj’. It still manages to spark terrific nostalgia and takes us back in the 70s when the dynamic ‘Chetak’ was launched. The entry of Chetak was a turning point for the company which brought the name and fame becoming a favourite of every Indian household.

It was during this time when the owners teamed up with ad guru Lt.Alyque Padamsee to weave the eternal tagline cum song ‘Hamara Bajaj’ making it synonymous with the sentiments of the country, evoking a bit of patriotism everytime it aired.  A lack of competition then led Bajaj to hold a monopoly in the market floating fee more brands named Priya, Super under it.

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As a smart move, Bajaj created Chetak at a time when luxury was new to the masses and a large population still was not able to afford it and a four-wheeler was a thing of the upper classes as they called it while the two-wheelers were rising up on the popularity chart back then. With an affordable pricing strategy and getting the TG right (middle-class), Bajaj became a pivotal part of every Indian family.

Kawasaki Bajaj – The Unshakeable

In 1986 Bajaj Auto tied up with Kawasaki for the sale and after-sales service of Kawasaki motorcycles through its Probiking, a premium bike dealership network, since 2009. The company roped in Vidya Balan for their ad campaign to promote the Kawasaki range of vehicles.

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The one and a half minute long ad film catered to a mass audience signifying the strong relationships which subtly integrating the vehicle as an accelerator to further strengthen the bonds.

However, the 33-year long association between Bajaj and Kawasaki ended in India following deepening of ties between the former and its Austrian partner KTM in a quest to enhance the global presence.

The rise of the Competition

What’s success or failure without competing? While Bajaj Auto still held the larger share, the famous auto brand then, Hero Honda made a quick entry in the motorcycle market with the newest technologies. It launched Activa, gearless scooters, with a unique structure and look, electric starter along with few more advancements. The move posed a huge threat to Bajaj Auto’s success to an extent that the market value started diminishing it had to stop production of the iconic ‘Chetak’ in 2005 which dominated the market for three decades.  

As a reply to Honda’s Activa, Bajaj Auto came up its own version of gearless scooter ‘Kristal’ in 2006 which too lagged behind in etching a mark. However, the company claimed to have had reported a 4.7 percent increase in net profit at Rs. 116.32 crores in the quarter ended June 30, 2000, as against Rs. 111.09 crores in the corresponding period the previous year.

In the 2000s, Bajaj Auto stopped manufacturing scooters that were considered to be the biggest drawback of the company since the scooter market started booming, holding a 34% share of the two-wheeler market.

Bajaj Auto, as reports suggest, failed to keep up with the changing market dynamics and consumer trends which led to it losing shares to the competition and foreign entrants.

n chandramouliN Chandramouli, CEO at TRA Research asserts that for those who grew up in the 90s may not be able to remember a better ad than ‘buland Bharat ki buland tasveer, Humara Bajaj’ … Bajaj scooters had become the symbol of a resurgent, yet caring India, of aspirations, of hopes made up of cultural diversity. “Rarely has an ad captured the mood prevalent among Indians in a manner that the Humara Bajaj’ did. It resonated with indians across class and region and gave everyone a feeling of belongingness and pride.”

He also feels it was Lowe’s best campaign to date which till now triggers nostalgia of an entire era.

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The discovery of Bajaj Discover, Bajaj V and The Power of Digital Storytelling

Bajaj Discover- ‘Ek Litre Mein India Ki Khoj’

The aggressive market profile did not deter Bajaj Auto from focussing on new variant launches wherein it rolled out ‘Bajaj Discover’ bikes in 2003 betting big on the mileage factor.  Combined with an interesting tagline, ‘Ek Litre Mein India Ki Khoj’, the variant was promoted through traditional and digital channels.

The ad films were segmented in spots for Television while full versions were released on digital. The campaign was shot pan India in slots and series featuring various places within the country and the facts which make them special within 100 km (or as the company called it 1 Ltr) distance from some prominent city/town.

Magnetic Hill – Ladakh, Mattur – the Vedic village, Jambur – the Gujarati village with an African tribe and Shani Shingnapur – a town where houses don’t have doors, etc. were explored in the commercials.

From Hamara Bajaj to Distinctly Ahead

In 2007, Bajaj Auto Limited (BAL) announced its new slogan and decided to move ahead of ‘Hamara Bajaj’ to be ‘Distinctly Ahead’ with a vision to being ahead by being distinctive in all aspects including production, technology, and manufacturing, also in marketing and communication strategy. Marching ahead with the rising nation, Bajaj Auto and R.Balki, then National Creative Director at Lowe, conceptualized the TVC to unveil the new positioning based on values of speed, innovation, and perfection.

‘The Fastest Indian’

Later in 2009, the Ogilvy team including the likes of Piyush Pandey devised ‘The Fastest Indian’ positioning for Bajaj Pulsar’s variants targeted at youth. It was Bajaj Auto’s first 360-degree digital campaign using all digital touch-points going beyond conventional media channels.

Realizing the potential of digital media, the brand went ahead with creating a fan page on Facebook to engage with the consumers. The company also developed a widget to check user internet speed and a game-based application that allowed users to see how fast they can go on The Fastest Indian.

Bajaj Avenger- Feel Like God

10 years later the Mullen Lintas team revived the ‘Feel Like God’ – a catchphrase invented by veteran ad filmmaker R Balki. This time in 2016 to lead it digitally and was targeted to the corporate world and people who say no to a ‘9-5’ job or more specifically the ‘rat race’, thereby exploring the array of topics to highlight them through their communication.

Bajaj V, the Invincible Indians, and the #SonsOfVikrant

Bajaj V, a vehicle of pride was unveiled to the masses ahead of Republic Day in 2016 through social media while it continued to trend on Twitter. Made from metal salvaged from the Vikrant, India’s first aircraft, Bajaj V has been weaving remarkable stories since it’s inception.

The brand did not stop here, taking the communication ahead, it went onto explore the story of the war hero (INS Vikrant) who was later abandoned and then moved the focus onto the changemakers of society to salute their heroism and give them a platform to reveal their side of the story.

Throughout the campaign series, the brand aimed to go beyond mileage and it’s product feature with effective storytelling. Social media activation for the same got them impressive results and the stories got shared actively among the netizens.

Sons of INS Vikrant- Everyday Pride – The Invincible Indian- Postcards of Pride

Sans doubt, the innovative and varied approach towards advertising and effective use of different mediums for communication has made Bajaj Auto a force to reckon with.  From being India’s pride by making everyone croon to ‘Hamara Bajaj’ to discovering a boy within every man to introducing us to the ‘Invincible Indians’ to now claiming to be the ‘World’s Favourite Indian’, Bajaj Auto Limited has had its ups and downs like no other and we salute the journey which has been unbreakable while being unstoppable.