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Sons of Vikrant: The legend, the bike and an idea steeped in pride

April 28, 2016, saw the leaders of Indian advertising rub shoulders with the bravehearts of the Indian Navy at the screening of ‘Sons of Vikrant’, a documentary created by Leo Burnett and Bajaj Auto on the legendary aircraft carrier – the INS Vikrant.

As is known, the metal from the iconic ship is being used in to make parts of Bajaj Auto’s recently launched bike – Bajaj V.

In conversation with AdGully, Saurabh Varma, CEO, South Asia of Leo Burnett, takes us through the thought process behind the bike (Bajaj V), the making of ‘Sons of Vikrant’ and a marketing strategy steeped in national pride.

The Bike – Hamara Bajaj Redux

That is already well-documented, almost 18 months back when the Vikrant was getting scrapped we had built a prototype. We built a video case study that documented how Bajaj could use to launch a tough bike. We were thinking what could be the next version of Hamara Bajaj. So if you think of Hamara Bajaj Version 1, Version 2 – it was built on national pride, and we were think what could be the next phase of the campaign in today’s scenario when there are so many new opportunities where you can tell stories in a refreshing way. How would you do the next Hamara Bajaj?

At the same time Bajaj Auto was looking at the commuter bike segment which is a very tough segment to win in. The company was doing very well in the lower segment and the sports segment, which is above this. So we wanted to launch a bike in the commuter segment which was about pride, about toughness and which was a solid bike. It came as an incredible opportunity where an idea which Leo Burnett presented got taken to create one of the biggest launches in Bajaj’s history which ultimately became the Bajaj V. So Leo Burnett created the idea, designed the logo, created the brand name called the Bajaj V, we created the insignia, we created a website on the museum of Vikrant, we did the search and social strategies, we launched a teaser film which was released on January 26 this year, we did the reveal film, which happened on April 1. We worked with the PR across all dimensions, we managed the retail and activation on the ground during the launch, which was on March 23. In fact, 11,000 of the bikes were sold out within the first hour of the launch, Currently there is a waiting list of three months to get the bike, so it has been quite an unprecedented launch at the moment.

Bajaj was initially planning on a production target of 20,000 bikes month, and recently Bajaj has come out in media saying that because of this unprecedented demand they will now increase the production to 50,000 bikes a month. With each bike priced at around Rs 65,000, it is half billion dollar of sale in a year.

The Film – Guns and Glory

When we were working on the Vikrant we were in conversation with many of the people who served on board the Vikrant and we started hearing some very interesting stories on what happened on board the Vikrant, especially during the 1971 war and some of these stories were fascinating stories. So we thought that these stories need to be told. And the marketing team in Bajaj, Rajiv Bajaj were very enthusiastic about it. These incredible stories will give people a sense of what the Vikrant meant and what it did for India and the role it played in our lives. That’s a very important story to tell. That’s how the ‘Sons of Vikrant’ came about. It is a 16-minute long film which has four chapters and each of these four chapters documents the untold stories of the brave warriors and heroes who were on board the Vikrant. Then there is a shorter 3-minute version of the film. The quality and storytelling are incredible. The film will be available everywhere – on YouTube, on Facebook, all the digital platforms. In fact several of the news channels have shown their interest in airing this film and they plan on releasing its content.

Because the stories were in the honour of these brave warriors, many of them had joined us at the filming event in Mumbai and we got a chance to hear their stories for the first time; it was an incredible experience. The Naval officers past and present are very excited to see the fact that Vikrant has taken a new shape, which is in the form of the Bajaj V. They feel equally excited about what Bajaj Auto has managed to do, which is to take this iconic piece of history and make it possible for every India to own a piece of this history and to ride the pride. 

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