Saturday, May 20, 2006

Apache : Mean Machine or Teen Machine.

Brand : Apache
Company: TVS
Agency ; MCCann Erickson

TVS is a company with a resilient attitude. When Suzuki motors decided to severe ties with TVS, most of the market expert wrote off this company. But TVS came into the market with much more strength with their flagship brand Victor. Victor revived the company’s fortune and since its launch, Victor has maintained its position in the executive segment.

TVS was known for the lower priced bikes. When it had a joint venture with Suzuki, the best selling brands were its Max 100. TVS tried its hand in the performance category with its Shogun and Fiero but was not successful in cracking this segment.

2006 saw the bold new initiative from TVS with the launch of Apache. Apache is in the premium performance segment in the market dominated by Bajaj Pulsar. With Apache , the company is trying to reposition itself as a new generation motorcycle manufacturer. TVS is trying to emulate the success of Bajaj with its Pulsar.

Apache has got rave reviews for its performance so far. Most of the auto mags are giving it a positive review proving that TVS have a winner in Apache. Apache is going to compete with the established Pulsar. The recent relaunch of Pulsar 180 Black was a preemptive move by Bajaj to counter the threat of Apache.

TVS Victor has proved the company’s capability in offering excellent value for money motorcycle. Although the subsequent launch of TVS Centra bombed, the company is trying to reinforce the position of Victor with its new variant and the new brand Ambassador : Mahendra Dhoni.

Apache is expected to give serious competition to Pulsar. Since the initial market noises show the acceptance of the brand and the lower price of Apache making it more attractive can either shake the position of Pulsar or will expand the market of premium segment bikes.

TVS has got the product right but how about the promotion. The latest TVC of Apache is a dampener and will erode its positioning as a premium performance bike. The brand is now promoted as the ultimate bike with the baseline “Its now or never”. I feel that Mccann have completely killed the positioning in its TVC. Pulsar was successful because it clearly differentiated itself as a mean machine with its “ Definitely Male” campaign. Although the TG are College students and young executives, the campaign essentially talked to the “Man ” inside. The latest campaign of Pulsar 180 DTSI also is trying to give that Macho appeal.
But the ad of Apache shows not Man but Teens. With some funny Hindi song (which the south Indians are not going to understand) and lot of visuals, which we have seen enough, and with kids riding the bike, the ad is sure to position this brand as a teen machine. The baseline “ Its now or never” also is not creating any impression in the mind of the customer. The ad try to talk about lot of things but if you ask me what this bike stands for (USP) I don’t know.
It is really " Now or Never" for TVS. It has a good product but will have to get its branding straight. There is bound to be initall hiccups but with a product like Apache, TVS can do what Hero Honda could not. For that it have to create a unique position of Apache in the customer's mind. Without a meaningful USP, Apache is not going to give Pulsar a serious competition.