Recently Bajaj Auto, released an ad on brotherhood day, an ad apparently to reduce discrimination in the Himalayas between the Bullet riders and the Avenger riders. Watch how it goes.

I almost died laughing at the ad. It’s the cheapest shot of piggy backing on someone else’s brand name. The guy riding the Avenger, is also an imitation of Sid Lal. I look at the comments section and laughed even more. Samples –

  • What if i have a Scooty Pep, which Brotherhood am i a part of ?
  • Brokeback Mountain.
  • Very cheeky way to say me too.

Now, just to compare the Original with the me too, check out the Himalayan’s ad.

The imitation is not only apparent but sadly, a very long shot for quality too.

I’ve been a long fan of Rajeev Bajaj, he is actually one of my corporate heros and his company is easily in my most admired list and it should be there for a while, but this, this is desperation, laziness and an example of a ME TOO product. These are big words and heavy allegations against the Bajaj brand. Here is a story of why Enfield is cool, and Bajaj simply isn’t.

Lets start at the Basics – Products come in two main categories, ones that are Utilitarian and others that are Cool, or in other words, ones that are practical and ones that are meant for an experience – speed, luxury, statement, adventure etc. Our society is consumed with the trappings of cool, it attracts both the young and old, like a moth to a flame.It is a burning issue of our time.

Royal Enfield had always had the image of a Macho man. Its almost a test to prove your manhood. ( In some ways it truly was, just getting one of the older ones on the stand was a Royal Pain in the ass.) Men have and will continue to prove their manhood, through muscle, power and wealth. Its been going on for a while.

People will go though varying amounts of pain and quite frankly a lot of shit, just to be different or respected. An easier way is to be cool. Anyway, coming back to piggy backing coolness, there is a big ideological difference in companies that exist for experiences vs one that exist for profits. Everyone uses the term Passion, rather loosely, but true passion is one that comes out of mastery. I believe that RE, has mastered the experience that the company wants to give to its riders. They simply understand the golden rule of selling experiences – “not everything is done simply for profit !”, but every decision is one towards building the brand, and anything that doesnot lead to that goal is simply a distraction.

Just watch these two interviews !

FYI – that’s simply a guy who loves riding who by chance runs a motor cycle company.

On the other hand :

Here is a Rajeev Bajaj, an awesome man, but biker – NAH ! To me its the story of a Daddy’d boy, fulfilling out his fathers wishes.Makes me respect him, but that’s it. RE excites me ! He seems to talk helluva lot about “less is more”, but that seems to be more of what you say compared to what you do. Just the Pulsar has 7 variants along 5 with engine options. Of the motorcycles that do have choice, RE only has 2 engine options !

Avenger trying to acquire the cult coolness of RE by simply emulating it is as effective as applying paint to a cracked wall. These are all things that create temporary fizz, but fizz does die out.

In the video you see Rajeev stooping to a low level of talking about how “old, dated and boring” RE’s designs are. Actually he is jealous !  RE has been making bikes that are contemporary, the aesthetics of which can stand the test of time. Things with aesthetics aren’t just about the surface design, its about the entire essence being right. Bajaj on the other hand has been able to crack funky design – but here is the thing about design, it’s like make up and it fades pretty soon. When you stop at design, you have to keep making new design every goddamn year. Think Rolex Vs Fast Track !

Marketing will always manipulate you with tricky slogans and visuals that make you want to go and buy a product. Buzz can be bought, but that faux fizz fizzles really soon. I’ve bought both both, a Bajaj product and an RE one and buying the RE gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. When a customer experiences it, you know that he just bought into a lot more than just a bike. He bought into a belief, a thought process, a cult – a brother hood !

RE is a case study and has proved that

  1. It is possible to be both mainstream and edgy.
  2. You can be a Goliath, but you always have to think like David !



Till yesterday Hero was the boring incumbent making mileage motorcycles and Bajaj was the radical one and suddenly Bajaj seems to be taking up Hero’s spot. If this continues, and given the onslaught of the Ducatis, Bennellis etc coming up more and more mouthwatering prices in India, Bajaj’s best shot at achieving coolness is probably in buying a brand rather than creating more bikes with snazzy, temporary design. They are launching a a new 400 cc cruiser in November. Lets see if i have to eat my words !


One thought on “Bajaj Auto just shot itself in the foot with a Bullet !

  1. This is essentially an authenticity argument, which isnt itself very novel.
    I do agree, that Bajaj needs to put in a lot more thought into its design and marketing communication.

    While the don’t have the historical positional advantage of Royal Enfield, being a corporate behemoth endows them with other structural advantages. The day they learn to wield these, RE has a lot to lose.

Leave a Reply