Redefining Indian Biker – Bajaj

Indian TV is buzzing with the jingle ‘Hum mein hai Hero!’ It reminds me of a similar re-branding exercise taken up by ‘Hamara Bajaj’ in the year 2001.

“Badal rahe hain hum yahaan. Yeh zameen yeh aasmaan… Naye bharat ki nayi tasveer. Buland Bharat ki buland tasveer… Hamara Bajaj.”

In a country, where two-wheeler account for 80 percent of all vehicles on the road, market leadership is a tough fight between local manufacturers and foreign entrants. Through this commercial, Bajaj has kept its leadership role with advertising and marketing that pays homage to its roots in Indian society, while mixing it with modernity. In a marketplace that up until 2005 still referred to all motorcycles in the country as ‘Hondas,’ this positioning has literally transformed Bajaj from a scooter maker to a dominant motorcycle brand in India.

Bajaj resurged through its ability to bridge India’s often-contradictory forces of tradition and modernity, conformism and individualism, austerity and consumerism. Hamara Bajaj repositioned itself with a symbolic Indian TV ad – a beautiful 60-second spot that touched the hearts and minds of millions of youthful Indians.

The commercial opens on a lone, twenty-something biker astride a spanking Bajaj Eliminator, who is cruising down a highway. As he nears and passes a roadside temple, he lessens the throttle and bows his head in reverence and does a pranaam. We cut away to four hunks dressed in leather, walking in unison toward their Bajaj Boxers. As one hunk swings his leg to straddle his bike, his foot touches the leg of his friend. He stops and makes an apologizing gesture.

We then find a young couple together on a Bajaj Caliber. They are both dressed in T-shirts and jeans, and the girl on the back of the bike has her arms wrapped tightly around the man. But as they pass an elderly man, she moves her hands away from her beau. The old man smiles at the couple.

Cut to a couple of bikers as they take a drag. Coming across a rangoli, they negotiate around it and ride away, leaving it unblemished. Then a woman is seen taking a joyride on a monsoon day in her Bajaj Saffire. As she comes to a halt, she notices her sindoor dripping across her forehead and wipes its flow.

We then see a Sardarji, riding his Bajaj Legend with his foreign friend perched on the pillion. When they arrive at a Gurudwara, the man places a head-covering scarf on the woman. The spot closes with a shot of two macho guys on a Bajaj bike; the guy on the back of the bike has a sitar slung over his shoulder. Their rock outfits certainly clash with the centuries-old instrument, but on a Bajaj bike it seems perfectly natural! Perfectly cool!

Now as Pulsar and Discover shed Bajaj from their brand name, I hope that these two symbols of new India grow just as Audi did after shedding VW.