Monday, May 28, 2007

Branding Yamaha in India

Sometimes, when I go back to my agency days I just cant get over the ways that we used to give names to upcoming brands. It used to be a combination of the

  • craziness/creativity of the copywriter (sometimes the art guy gets a call if he is a combination with the copy guy),
  • the creative brief (often shoddily written by the client/servicing guy with no eye-sight, hand-sight or hind-sight),
  • the planning guy's two-bits (literally) if he existed in the system (if he did, he was often too busy with a presentation that he had to finish two weeks back)
  • and the occassional evesdropping like comments by the big bosses.

These were the ingredients to a name given to a new product offer that is intended to exist for the next generation.

Branding as a subject is so huge that I am not experienced enough to write a philosophy; however it is my passion for a brand called YAMAHA that leads me to many questions. I would like to hint at one of them. Because that's what is eating me right now...

Do we really think 20 years of history and 20 years of future before arriving at a brand name?

Yamaha created a storm with its RX100 and RD350 superbikes. It was everything going good for Yamaha. Great Bikes, Good foresight from the house of Escorts and perhaps good branding!

RX100 and RD350 are still names that youngsters take with pride. Then suddenly things turned turtle. Out of all mess, some agency named one of the new models of Yamaha - CRUX.

What is the logic behind not sticking to the numerical format of branding? When Crux failed, Crux-R failed, some one should have had the sense of getting back to the the strong numerical format of branding that has worked for Yamaha in India.

Then a miracle happened. Someone rebranded the Libero (a good bike but failed in the market) as the G5. I thought now this brand will roll in India. And Yamaha was pumping big monies into media advertising.

But today, I saw Yamaha has launched a new 106 cc model named Alba. I can only get red with anger. What's wrong with Yamaha?

Worst is the launch TV advertisement. No sign of John Abraham. Cant believe the inconsistency. If John was promoted as the brand ambassador of Gladiator and not Yamaha as a whole, it would have been perhaps okay to not take him for one product... but now it is a complete hara kiri.

They were however consistent in copying the most ordinary bike advertising using a sexy female getting attracted to the biker.

How can a mere 106 cc bike be promoted as something that girls fall for. If they had launched a 250 cc version then this kind of advertising would have made some little sense. But now... the advertising agency deserves to be sacked.

Lets look at some of the comments in other blogs:

  • ...i wouldnt buy it even if i got that female model in a package deal!!
  • I am now entirely convinced that Yamaha India is being run by people who are seriously brain-damaged, and who are incapable of running a motorcycle manufacturing operation in India. Expect the company to go bust in the next 6 - 12 months.In the meanwhile, here's the most interesting Alba in the world: Jessica Alba. You can find her here:
  • Alba, eh? HA HA and HA! Yamaha has gone totally bonkers I suppose if they still insist on launching such utter crap. And this, after all the auto mags have been saying that Yamaha's next bike in India is going to be a 250! If you ask me, Yamaha is now by far the worst bike company in India, with by far the worst motorcycles in their lineup. Fuck you, Yamaha!

What do I say? For sure, Yamaha Motors should do three things which is theory and one thing which is emotional:

  1. Sack the marketing department - they cant do a single thing right. Even the name of the website was spelt wrong in the collaterals of Alba launch.
  2. Sack the advertising agency - they are not even worth the FAF!
  3. Hire a good qualitative research agency and do a India-wide research campaign to understand what Yamaha needs to do to survive in India.

Please hire people who are passionate about Yamaha - the brand. Hire people who have driven the RX100 or the RD350 at least once.

This is an absolute must.


  1. I agree Durlov with your last point. The ad agency guys should have atleast driven the RX100/RX135/RD350/RXZ before christening the new bike ALBA. It sounds like a nerd's first words.

    I will not go ahead too much and criticize the ad itself as there is a lot which can go wrong with it. In this case it might be that all most everything went wrong, but that is ok. What is sheer callousness is that the website was misspelt on collaterals..For this yes, the marketing department should be strung up. ( They probably have a three eye principal, where the second guy turns a blind eye to the QC..)

    I have never driven a bike in my life. Tried once to drive Honda Activa on a friend's insistence but umm well, thats that. But I know how it feels to be driving a great bike...Seriously, I don't want to be seen riding an ALBA. It reminds me of Bajaj's Boxer...Great mileage but absolutely a no no for any self respecting college going kid.

    The names of bikes have gone from great to shockingly bizzare and it seems that the companies are sadly set to outdo each other....So i am expecting more blogs from you on this issue...

  2. Anonymous1:48 PM

    thank you for your comment.!


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