One after another, auto companies are conducting road trips to promote their cars. Last year, Mitsubishi did a Great Driving Challenge, wherein couples had to gather votes from people to be able to get a chance to drive 3000 kms in a Lancer Cedia car. Volkswagen Polo did a road show in MTV earlier this year. June 2010 was dominated by Tata Nano’s Superdrive road trip, wherein 9 Nanos covered 39 cities and 15000 kms in 26 days, for which I was the official blogger.
Currently Ford India is promoting its small car Ford Figo through a north to South road trip called Discover Smart Drive. I am very much tempted to compare Ford Figo’s Discover Smart Drive with Tata Nano Superdrive, and hence this post.
The Motive, Objective and Occasion
Nano Superdrive was held to celebrate the launch of Sanand plant in Gujarath with over 2.5 lakh cars per year capacity. Though Nano had won appreciation all over, very few people had seen it, due to very limited availability. Super drive aimed to create awareness about the car allover India and build demand for the car as it’s shipped in bulk to showrooms.
Ford Figo as such is a nice value for money car and no doubt has been fairly successful on sales records. [My review of Ford Figo here] Ford is conducting Smart Drive to celebrate the production (not sale) of 50000 Ford Figo cars in a short time (within about 6 months of its launch). [Thanks to Hrish Thota, one of the 2 official bloggers for clarification] Not a great number to boast off, but still significant as Figo has marked Ford India's successful entry into India's small car market. Currently Figo is 5th most selling small car in India (6465 units of Figo were sold in Sep 2010, beating Tata Indica (6258units) and Hyundai Santro (6451 units), as per September 2010 auto sales figures. (Alto 30147 units, i10 (14434), WagonR (14354), Swift (11913) are the first 4 places, need to note that Indigo, Manza and Marina put together touched 8783 units though).
The cavalry: Nano superdrive cavalry included 3 Nanos and one or two support vehicles, while Figo tour has one 50000th Figo, 1 media Figo and 1 support Figo, all diesel, titanium. Graphics on Nano cars look more appealing than the ones on Figo, in my personal opinion. Both road trips are of close to 1 month in Duration and are masterminded and managed by same event management Company, Shobiz...
Drive routes and the drive:
Nano Superdrive included 3 teams which simultaneously toured north, south and central India. Figo Smart drive is relatively simpler, starting at Amritsar and ending in Chennai, driving from north to south, covering Jaipur, Delhi, Agra, Indore, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and few more cities on the way, spanning over 4 weeks.
Nano didn’t have any celebrity driver as such. Media people, official bloggers, hired drivers, lucky winners, Tata Motors officials everyone shared the steering wheel on the drive. In Ford Figo the focus is on 4 couples who’ve been chosen to drive 1 week each. Figo is positioned as smart family car, targeting young couples and hence this is a wise move.
In both road trips, its one day of driving, one day city activities, trying to catch some eyeballs from public, media and others
Interactivity with online users:
Figo Smart drive is well promoted online, with lots of contests for online fans. Nano on the other hand focused more on offline activities- customer meets, FM radio activities, test drives etc and had very little interaction with online followers. Nano Superdrive’s route and destinations were predefined, while Figo couples have an opportunity to spend good time at tourist places and the discretion to deviate from main road and visit nearby places if they wish to consider various recommendations of online fans. Nano’s facebook page managed to add just about a 1000 fans during the campaign (don’t have exact numbers, rough estimate) while Ford Figo had about 8800 fans and 1200 followers prior to the trip and is increasing fast (they just crossed 10k mark).
Superdrive had created 3 blogspot based blogs for each of the routes (visit Green, White and Saffron route blogs). Ford is smartly using is already popular corporate blog, drivingford.in Superdrive had very little action on twitter, while Figo is actively organizing tweetups, publishing on the move twitter updates and holding lots of contests for twitter, facebook and orkut users.
Both of these road trips are good experiential marketing experiments for respective companies. Nano superdrive did receive good media coverage and Ford Figo Smart drive, which has completed one fourth of the journey is also getting good attention. As companies spend several crores worth marketing budget into these activities, I wish them all the best and hope it converts into sales in near future.
Sadly only 5520 Tata Nanos were sold in September 2010- Not sure if there was a demand but not enough supply, or there wasn't any demand at all.
Disclaimer: Personal observations and opinions only. Figo Discover Smart Drive images sourced from Ford Figo facebook page, Nano superdrive pics are my own. All information as available with the blogger at the time of composing this post and information are subject to change without prior notice. Brand names and logos are property of respective automotive companies.
Also Read: Mitsubishi Great Indian Driving Challenge * Fiat Linea Review * Ford Endeavour TDCi 2.5 MT review * Maruti A-Star review * Scorpio 2.2 Vls mHawk Review * Ford Figo Review * Chennai Roadies * Nano Superdrive * Pros and Cons of road trips *