By Malay Desai
From: Switzerland, created by RUF LANZ Zürich
The spot is made out of footage shot by a handheld camera, of the Volkswagen Chairman Martin Winterkorn looking in and around the new Hyundai i30 at an international motor show in Frankfurt. On discovering the absence of a rattling sound behind the steering, he repeatedly asks his subordinates ‘Why can they do it?’, to which he gets no convincing response. It ends with the copy ‘Approved by our toughest competitor’ before the brand name and Hyundai logo.
We’re a bit skeptical about featuring automobile adverts in this space as no matter how flamboyantly shot and cleverly scripted they are, they eventually fall into a box with their counterparts. This Hyundai i30 spot, though, is to automobile advertising what some Indie films are to Bollywood: not a blockbuster but having enough edginess to make jaws drop.
At Frankfurt’s last international motor show, Hyundai hit upon some priceless footage shot (probably by a phone camera) of the VW chairman checking out the i30 in a bossy, let’s-see-what-they’ve-got manner. A longer video, a hit on YouTube, shows him measure up the hatchback and shoot sharp queries at his juniors. Unfortunately for the world’s soon-to-be largest car-maker, he is recorded clearly when he asks about a rattling sound, an issue Hyundai has addressed but VW clearly hasn’t. Unknowing that he would create a PR disaster, he keeps asking how they (and even BMW) can do it. The response he gets - “We had a solution, but it was too expensive…”- makes this ad even more scandalous.
It is both cocky and brave for the agency to edit this footage into a crisp 30-seconder and hit the competitor where it hurts most. The TVC, by keeping the sound real, by adding minimal graphics or proud claims, retains the sensation in the video. Little surprise that the spot was the talk of the show, and we all know what motor shows mean to Germany.
It’s virtually impossible for any brand/agency to plan or rig such an ad, but it’s always a pleasure to watch competitors at each others’ necks. In the cut-throat Indian market, we enjoy competitors taking digs through ads with head-to-head comparisons; but imagine one of them disclosing such a video at a Delhi Auto Expo! Cyrus Mistry, beware!