"Brand ambassadors are generally used to promote a particular badge most of the time," Scott McCormack, vice president, Ford India, had once told
. Right now, Sulajja Firodia Motwani, managing director, Kinetic Motor Company, probably couldn't agree with him more, as she details her company's choice of actor Bipasha Basu as brand ambassador for the Kinetic SYM Flyte.
Coming back from a large restructuring exercise, brand Kinetic, which has featured amongst India's most valuable brands in an independent, comprehensive study conducted by Planman Consulting – ICMR, needs to spell out its target audience clearly. Motwani believes Bipasha is the best choice for this objective. Brand ambassadors create associations in the minds of the consumer, who identify with the qualities the ambassador is known for. "Bipasha reflects our primary target buyer and her aspirations," insists Motwani with conviction.
Using brand ambassadors for cars and bikes is not new. Abhishek Bachchan has been one for the Ford Fiesta, and Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukherjee for the Chevrolet Aveo U-VA.TVS Motors has used Priety Zinta to launch its Scooty Pep+.
But, Motwani takes pains to point out, Kinetic's campaign is a little different. It is trying to use Basu's screen persona as a strong, independent woman to target an even smaller niche in the scooterette segment. Scooterettes are small scooters, with 100 to 150 cc engines and small bodies, ideal for short distances and for carrying luggage without compromising on mileage.
Flyte's target buyers are expected to be assertive and informed. They are supposed to know why a larger battery means better starts, and why you need central locking on a scooter.
Bipasha's best-known movies include
and the critically acclaimed
. The image Kinetic wants to project includes a common thread of Bipasha's character in all these movies – independent, not blindly accepting social standards and norms, bordering on the irreverent and never clearly expressed as (conventionally) black or white. The same image can also be associated with financially independent women, not averse to taking risks, says an executive with a major Mumbai-based advertising agency on condition of anonymity.
Basu, a niche actor in her own style, expresses Motwani, makes sense for Kinetic, which is trying to recreate a niche in the minds of consumers. And taking the actor's stand-apartedness further, the company hopes to also catch the attention of its second-level consumer segment: after the assertive woman. Flyte is targeting a 40 per cent men's segment of potential Flyte buyers.
"We are trying to create a self image with a brand ambassador. The Flyte as a vehicle is targeted primarily at a particular consumer class among scooter buyers," Motwani explains.
The zippy, attitude-packed Basu-endorsed Flyte ad commercial currently on air, expresses a break from assembly-line behaviour to extend one of strongly independent, individual expression. It waits to be seen whether the strong, independent, self-expressed young woman of today actually identifies with Basu enough to extend the identification to the brand she (Basu) is celebrating – through the advertising – her individuality with.