Its common to see Celebrities and Actors endorsing a particular brand of vehicle. They do have strong influence and make an impact in the buying power of general Public. This is Common across globe and even bigger brands like BMW, required celebrities like Sachin to endorse them in India. When it comes to B2C, Yes the impact is bigger but B2B products like trucks, tippers do they have any impact? Let’s see them with an interesting case study.
In case of Commercial Vehicles, there are brands like Volvo who rope in Celebrities for endorsing their brands. Volvo has been attempting series of different videos to promote their brand, truck and features in their trucks. During 2012, Volvo performed a highlining stunt with Faith Dickey. Faith was the first female to level the playing field in the sport of highlining, and she quickly proved that being a woman is not a disadvantage. She holds several world records for performing death-defying stunts. She has done enough to prove that all she knew about fear was thrown into the sky.
In 2013, Volvo took another attempt to drive a truck with a Hamster. A Hamster, was caged in a Volvo FMX steering wheel. By showing the carrot to it, it starts to move, and there by steering wheel and eventually manoeuvring the truck.
Same year in Nov 2013, Volvo continued its Original marketing videos and it definitely raised eye brows never before. It was almost unbelievable when the first clippings of Jean-Claude van Damme, made a epic split on Volvo trucks got released. “How could we show the Volvo Dynamic Steering system to its full potential?” recalls Andreas Nilsson, director of ‘The Epic Split’. “And we came up with this crazy concept of having two vehicles drive in reverse and having someone stand on the wing mirrors performing a full split. If anyone is going to do the task, it would have to be Jean-Claude Van Damme.”
Van Damm is known for splits many times in Hollywood movies, but performing on a moving truck was unheard. This truck stunt is one of the most award winning advertisements and has so far reached more than 8.6 Cr views, by far one of the largest reached advertisements ever for a Commercial Vehicle maker.
In case of India, we already have couple of endorsements for desi brands. While no one performed stunts, MS Dhoni, told App ke Jeet, Hamari Jeet for Ashok Leyland,
Ajay Devgan has asked to return your Mahindra truck if it has less fuel performance than any other brand of Truck and,
Akshay has joined Tata and he promotes every single CV from the brand.
While Dhoni endorsing Ashok Leyland, was more of brand establishment, the other ones are close to selling trucks. The advertisements do gain popularity when Celebrities endorse. With so much popularity an advertisement gained and what is the dividend? And the most important question of how these Ad’s influence the truck buying decisions? or otherwise how many trucks can Akshay and Ajay can sell?
Let’s go back to Volvo. In that case, post dramatic epic split Ad, they surveyed transport companies in that market segment to gauge their reactions. According to an article in Campaign, Volvo Trucks commissioned the respected market researcher, GfK, to survey 2 200 of these companies across, many countries like Sweden, France, Germany, UK, Spain, Poland, Russia and Brazil between December 2013 and January 2014. Half of the trucking companies surveyed operated Volvo trucks and the other half didn’t.
Epically anaemic, to put it mildly. Campaign’s article says that, “of the respondents who had seen ‘epic split’, [Yes There were some who hadn’t seen it] 24% said they took action after seeing it (either visiting a Volvo website or contacting a dealer), 19% said they intended to take action, and a lump-some 57% said they did not intend to take action”. Means, the impact is very minimal. Even the 24% who said, they took action its not obsolete necessary that, they have to buy a truck. Richard Hansson, a division manager at GfK, said: “From our experience we know that people in general do not want to admit that they have been influenced by a commercial. “The results from the Volvo Trucks survey point to the fact that the films included in the campaign have not been perceived as commercials in a traditional sense, but have given an added value to the viewers.”
But there were other benefits. Between June 2012 and April 2014, subscribers to Volvo’s YouTube channel rose from 3,500 to 90,000. The brand’s number of Facebook fans increased from 16,000 to 330,000, while the number of monthly visitors to Volvo Trucks European websites rose from 175,000 to 300,000.Estimated earned media value from the “live test” campaign was €128 million (£106.1 million).
India has seen these kind of high decibel marketing campaigns like the ones from Ajay and Akshay. The impact, may not necessarily promote sales but may have an impact in the brand. Tata motors venture into truck racing is an interesting and important case study on the brand building. As per the some of the reports, the event is now a 100 Cr business and has brought a huge crowd pulling. But if you equate that to sales charts, the results aren’t actually going north. But in case of reach of brand ‘Tata’, it has definitely gone few steps high with mass audience. The Bharat Benz story of driving trucks to Himalaya’s by Mantira Bedi is also of the same category.
So the verdict is not just selling trucks, but more of brand building over a period of time. Even the definition of brand building is more towards an audience who need not be your Customers always.