Iconic Ads: Bajaj Caliber – Hoodibaba

Lintas had a brief which was similar to all other briefs – great mileage, great power. Balki was exasperated – all bikes cannot have the same thing!

Bajaj Auto launched the Caliber in 1998. The four-stroke motorcycle was launched in the emerging but rapidly growing executive segment. It was positioned as a resolute bike for the resolute rider.

The communication had worked with a good product. It became the first Indian motorcycle with sales of over 100000 bikes within the first year.

However, things dropped within a couple of years. In 2002-3 Bajaj went back to the drawing board and launched Caliber 115.

The executive segment was dominated by Hero Honda Splendour. and TVS Victor (endorsed by Sachin Tendulkar) had made a huge impact.

In the senior executive segment, correct communication is paramount. There is a need to show the bike as a high-value product to differentiate from the competition which was seen as a wise choice. Likewise, most advertising was functional.

All of the product’s features had to be packaged to exceed the consumer’s wildest expectations. Every aspect of the bike was designed to assist the customer in getting the most out of life and oneself.

In short, Caliber 115 was indescribably brilliant.

Lintas had invited the Bajaj team for an evening. The relationship was going nowhere. Only a small part of the business was with Lintas.

A few drinks down, there was an argument between Rajiv Bajaj and Balki, to the point it reached that Balki screamed at Rajiv for a pitch, and Rajiv barked back that Lintas was not capable.

But the professional that Rajiv was, he called Lintas for the Caliber 115 pitch.

Balki was flummoxed. On the one hand, he had threatened the Rajiv and on the other, he had a brief which was pretty much similar to all other briefs – great mileage, great power. He was exasperated – all bikes cannot have the same thing!

He kept swearing and finally told his planner, ‘What do you want? Some Hoodibaba great god baba boo or something?’ And then realized ‘That’s the campaign.’

He went to the meeting with some bikes and Hoodibaba. He told the Bajaj team that this was the campaign. Undoubtedly they were nonplussed. The Bajaj team wanted to know if this was a cuss word. Balki said “Not to the best of my knowledge. It just sounds big”
Bajaj went ahead with it.

The relationship between a father and son was used to add an emotional angle to the advertising. The advertising strategy was based on this bond and the rider’s role as a hero to his son.

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