Indian Motorcycle mocks Harley Davidson: competitive ad done well

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Competitive ads can be fun. Usually, the leading brand in a category (at least the perceived leader) becomes the target from a smaller competing brand. The creative execution can take many forms: sometimes the leading brand or the target brand is compared on features. Many years ago, Trikaya Grey created an ad for HCL Photocopiers which directly named Modi Xerox in their ads. The comparison was feature-to-feature and specifically mentioned why HCL was better. Recently, Samsung attempted it with ads comparing Galaxy series with the iPhone. These ads rely on hard facts to drive home the point. Such a route is tricky and may only make the competing brand’s fans feel good and may actually not motivate the target brand users to switch (that being the primary objective in such cases). And then there are the ads which mock the target brand in a witty way – usually to great effect. The Hindu did that very well recently as have Penn balls in the past. The execution is key in such cases – relying on subtle humour to bring a smile on the viewer’s face. Another angle to such competitive & comparative advertising are teaser ads. We’ve often seen teaser ads that create curiosity but when the final reveal happens the impact is missing. Competing brands try to steal thunder from the target brand in such campaigns too.

A critical factor when taking on a leading brand is the competing brand’s credibility. When Micromax takes on iPhone (as they did) it rings hollow and runs the risk of being mocked at, not taken seriously.

The latest work for Indian Motorcycles, is a great example of teaser ads done with class & credibility. The brand was manufactured from 1901 to 1953, when it went bankrupt. Fox Business says: Indian traces its roots to the first American motorcycle. It quickly became the top motorcycle brand, having developed the first-ever V-twin motorcycle and first electric starter. The company built a reputation among everyday bikers, racers and with the military, supplying the U.S. Army with bikes such as the Chief. So it is brand with great heritage. So when the agency says, for the last half century, there has been only one option for bikers who want an American motorcycle with a rich, legendary history. As America’s first motorcycle company, Indian Motorcycle is bringing choice back to the industry, it rings true.

The teaser campaign takes a subtle potshot at Harley Davidson, the brand name synonymous with biking int the US.

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Agency: Colle+McVoy, Minneapolis

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