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Royal Enfield’s latest campaign for Bullet misses the iconic positioning, say experts

Years ago, Royal Enfield had showcased its iconic Bullet bike as Yeh Bullet meri jaan manzilon ka nishaan and declared how Everybody makes way for the Bullet. In its over century-old presence in the market, Bullet has gone beyond being just a bike and has attained cult status –a la HOG (Harley Owners Group). Bullet riders clubs have cropped up all over the country and form a strong community that is very active on social media, further growing the Bullet legacy. 

Over the years, Bullet has undergone several changes; much to the chagrin of Bullet aficionados, the characteristic Bullet ‘thud’ has been muted to a great extent. Newer models have been added to suit all pockets and riding experiences. Besides, more and more women are taking to riding Bullets – no, not on pillion seats. 

In its latest endeavour, Royal Enfield has rolled out a campaign to introduce six new colours of its workhorse – the Bullet 350. Three ad films have been released, each describing a separate story representing the riders of this iconic motorcycle – strong, bold and resilient. 

The stories are conveyed through an Army officer, a gutsy young woman, and a dedicated doctor. 

In the first ad film, an Army officer leaves his family and rushes to the call of duty. The trusty Bullet is his vehicle of choice as he leaves to defend the nation. This ad showcases the strength of bullet riders and represents this spirit of the motorcycle very well. 

In the second ad film, a young woman sends a powerful message to a bunch of men hanging around her bike as she leaves a library late in the evening. Confident, unyielding and yet not confrontational, the woman characterises scores of women who have decided to break convention and have chosen to ride a Bullet over hiring a cab or being driven in a car. 

As Kavita Koserwal, CEO, Orcomm Advertising, remarked, “The girl showcased riding the Bullet might appeal to a lot of tradition-defying women.” 

The third ad film shows a dedicated doctor riding through a storm to reach a health camp and provide medical care there. This ad showcases the resilient aspect of the Bullet and its riders. They don’t take no for an answer and keep finding ways to move forward. 

The ad films have been developed by the in-house team of Royal Enfield in collaboration with Sartaj Jaffri from Black or White Brand Communications. The digital campaign has been conceptualised by the in-house digital strategy team.

The campaign is running on all platforms – print, digital, cinema and television in select markets. On social media, the #MyBullet campaign urges motorcyclists to share their most loved and cherished memories with their Bullet motorcycle. 

Impressive as the ad films are, however, they have not resonated as expected with the creative experts. 

As Pavan Punjabi, Strategy Head, Makani Creatives, put it, “The campaign for Enfield does resonate with the brand, but could have been more impactful. For instance, the Army film does establish a connect with the audience as Enfield is known to be the bike used by the armed forces. However, the women empowerment film seems repetitive as the format has been used by many brands. The campaign has the potential to get good mileage for the brand on social media platforms; however the films don’t convey the iconic position of the brand in a powerful manner.” 

Kavita Koserwal added here, “Being a woman and a non-rider, even I am disappointed seeing a communication like this from Royal Enfield. Bullet in India is not a bike. It is a cult. It is a brotherhood. It is passion. Brands aspire to be where RE Bullet already is. You do not take a cultural icon and turn it back into a vehicle. It is a biker’s bike and not a commuter’s commute. Unfortunately, the campaign does not do any justice to how a Bullet rider or prospective buyer sees it.” 

The stories that Bullet tells in its latest campaign have been told before by other brands – two-wheelers, four-wheelers and umpteen other categories. Thus, the ad films leave one with an underwhelming sense. One expected much, much more from a brand that has been in the market since 1901 and still maintains its image and inspires awe. There is Bullet on one side and all other bike brands – Japanese and Indian – on the other side. 

Adgully reached out to Royan Enfield to get some insights into the latest campaign, however, no response has been received till the time of filing this report. 

Perhaps it is time to bring back the characteristic deep ‘thud’ back to the Bullet and up the campaign game for the brand. As any Bullet rider will say, the expectations are way above the average.

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