Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bajaj Pulsar : Definitely Male

Brand : Pulsar
Company: Bajaj Auto
Agency ;O&M, Leo Burnett

Brand Count : 226

Pulsar is one of my favorite brands both as a bike rider and as a marketer. This bike has virtually redefined biking in this country. Pulsar launched in 2001 is the market leader in the 150 cc + performance bike segment. More than that , this brand changed the fortune of Bajaj Auto Ltd.

Before the launch of Pulsar, Indian bike market was divided broadly into Economy,Executive and Premium Bikes. In 1999 Hero Honda created a new segment of 150 cc performance segment with its CBZ. But Pulsar came and gave a new life into the Performance segment. Although not a pioneer, Pulsar made the performance segment one of the fastest growing segment in the two wheeler market.

It was not only the bike's performance that triggered the brand becoming an icon, a major part of the success was due to the classic advertising campaign by O&M. According to agencyfaqs, the birth of the "Definitely Male " campaign is interesting. The creative honchos found the new product from Bajaj distinctly different. It was Bajaj's first bike without Kawasaki label. The new bike was an R&D and design marvel.Pulsar was designed by the renowned design house Tokyo R&D. O&M knew that the communication of this brand should also be different.Starting with lot of ideas, O&M stuck upon the Big Idea of India's He-Bike. Although lot of bike take the persona of Macho bikes it was more oriented towards being "sexy". The Big Idea was to position the bike as World's first bike endowed with a Sex ( Gender).Thus born the classic campaign of all times " Definitely Male". The campaign together with the design and performance catapulted the brand into stratospheric sales level.
Bajaj targeted the 18-24 with Pulsar but later found that the brand appealed to a much older audience. This helped Bajaj to change its target audience to 21-35 years.
Unlike its old ways of doing things, Bajaj did not rest with the laurels. It knew that Pulsar is the golden key to control the entire bike market. Hence Pulsar got undivided attention from the company. In 2003 another milestone event happened in the product lifecycle of the brand. Bajaj launched its new technology DTSI. DTSi stands for Digital Twin Spark Ignition which delivered more power and efficiency. The increased performance of the brand took Pulsar to greater heights. 2004 and 2005 saw some cosmetic changes in the brand which excited the customers and thus cementing Pulsar's position in the market.

Pulsar came in two variants : 180 cc and 150 cc where 180 cc excited the performance bikers, 150 cc was for the mileage conscious ones. The 150cc variant took lot of customers away from the executive segment to the performance segment.

The brand had its share of marketing flaws also. According to reports, Bajaj reassigns its media duties to two brands O&M and Leo Burnett, every six months.When DTSI was launched, the creative duty was assigned to Leo Burnett. Leo Burnett did a big mistake on the brand by changing the positioning of " Definitely Male" to "Digital Biking". Although the ads were successful in conveying the technological superiority of DTSI and making that acronym popular, it deleted the most successful tagline from the brand's elements.

After ruling the premium bike segment, Bajaj is taking their brand to another level. Bajaj recently launched Bajaj Pulsar 200 Dtsi to take on the comeptition from Hero Honda and the like. The new Pulsar boasts of spruced up engine, new digital console and new style. Pulsar is definitely getting better.
Pulsar 200 is being launched with a new campaign revolving round the concept of Free Biking. Free Biking ( as defined by the brand Pulsar) is all about tackling obstacles.According to company officials, its about how you ride rather than where you ride. The ads made by O&M is filmed at Hawana Cuba ( expensive). Set to pulsating Arabian music, the ad shows how two Pulsar riders discover new route when their main way is blocked by traffic jam.
One word to describe this ad is HYPERBOLE and too much of it. What I feel is that the Big Idea od Free Biking is good but execution is ordinary. What made Pulsar a super brand was its ability to come out with different disruptive campaigns. But in the case of Pulsar 200, it is a sort of cut copy paste from some Hollywood movie (James Bond). More over, the Big Idea is also not properly communicated through the visuals. Also most of the time I was trying to make out some meaning out of the background song, later to find out that it was Arabic.

See the new Pulsar Ad here: Pulsar 200

Now every one is waiting for the new Bajaj 220 cc DTSFI which will redefine the bike segment again.

Sadly Bajaj is no longer using its blockbuster tagline " Definitely Male" but instead is using the corporate brand tagline " Distinctly Ahead". Bajaj earlier had another corporate tagline " Inspiring Confidence" when it completely redesigned its corporate logo and brand.
I still strongly believe that not using "Definitely Male" is a gross injustice to the brand itself. That tagline and positioning has lot of fire with it and except for the initial two campaigns, Pulsar was not able to build on its Definitely Male Platform.
But what ever I say and what ever the agency communicates through the ads, Pulsar has made itself into a position of strength. It has a brand equity so huge that what ever that comes out of it will be lapped up in no time. The success of Pulsar 200 DTSI is no longer dependent on the quality of ads but on the performance it delivers. This brand shows the power of brand equity where customers buy ,irrespective of lousy ads......
Watch the Old Pulsar ads here: Pulsar Collection