From being an aspirational brand to being a name that wants to connect with the Indian consumer, Tainwala, Executive Director, Marketing, Samsonite, takes us through the journey of the brand
Archit Ambekar | Mumbai | March 21, 2017
International travel gear giant American Tourister recently launched its latest campaign ‘I’m Ready’ featuring ace cricketer Virat Kohli. For 84 years, the brand didn’t have a brand ambassador but it recently got the Indian cricket team’s captain on-board.
Explaining the need for a brand ambassador, Anushree Tainwala, Executive Director, Marketing, Samsonite, South Asia, said, “I think the American Tourister’s potential market is much larger in India than in international markets considering the larger presence of middle class consumer base in India compared to other markets. We feel that there is a lot more potential in the Indian market. Indians are travelling lot more today. Every Indian aspires to go on a holiday abroad sometime. The best way to get there fast was to tie-up with someone who represented us and be an Indian and international icon and Virat Kohli was the best fit.”
Currently, in the organised market, Samsonite brands have a 40 per cent market share and American Tourister has a 30 per cent market share alone. Over the years, the brand has grown 12-15 per cent. With Kohli on-board as brand ambassador, the brand expects the sales to grow at 20-25 per cent.
The brand is revamping its products and portfolios so as to suit all kinds of markets in India. It will have a new range of products to target the smaller towns as affordability is a question for Indian consumers when it comes to spending over a thousand rupees on a backpack.
American Tourister’s direct competition Skybags already has an ambassador. Asked if they felt the heat from them, Tainwala said, “VIP (parent of Skybags) was always there when we brought American Tourister to India in 1994. So there was no question of them eating into our market share because they were the incumbent player. This move has nothing to do with the competition. I think it was just about finding the right moment and right icon. Virat just fits in at the right time.”
The brand has been growing at industry standards and in the next few years American Tourister intends to have a market share of 40 per cent from its current 30 per cent.
Introduced in India in 2009, the brand initially ran ads in local trains and television commercials in 2014 with a tagline ‘Live fashionably’ and ‘Tourister your everyday’ in 2016. The brand has come a long way in a short span of time. Explaining how the brand has evolved over the years, Tainwala said, “When we launched the brand it was all about creating brand awareness in the Indian market. At that time, the industry speak was more around the durability of the luggage brand. That was the main purchasing factor then. Those ads worked well for us as people got to know this international brand. Since then the category has evolved into moving away from the functional benefits to talking about the brand and the attitude behind it. I think we were also trying to move our brand into a more international platform, so the ads we use subsequently were similar to the ones we’ve used around the world. Today we are finding a mid-way from being an aspirational brand to a brand with which Indians can connect better.”
The travel gear brand recently launched its campaign – ‘I’m ready’ featuring the cricketer. Conceptualised by McCann Worldgroup India, the TVC opens with fans cheering on as Virat Kohli gets off a bus, wearing his backpack with a bat in his hand. The cricketer catches a glimpse of a little boy with a ball, and asks him to toss the ball at him and starts tapping the ball on his bat. He continues to tap the ball, backpack in tow, while traversing a pulsating, crowded Indian town with his fans following him and cheering him on.
We soon see Kohli arrive at a busy intersection, hit the ball in the air and cross the road to catch the ball on his bat again. As the crowd hoots at the feat, the little boy asks him to look the other way. Kohli turns to observe an even larger crowd approaching him. We see his face as he looks into camera, playfully shrugs, smiles and says, ‘I’m Ready.’ Saying this, he begins to tap the ball again, walking backwards as the crowd rushes towards him. The campaign ends with a shot of American Tourister backpacks and the brand logo.
Pradyumna Chauhan, National Creative Director, McCann Worldgroup India, said, “What is the first thing anyone says, once the bags are packed, and they are all set to leave? ‘I’m ready.’ And while the phrase is simple, it also carries a lot of emotional and symbolic meaning. That’s why we chose this as the campaign theme for American Tourister – a world-class brand that has an exciting and exhaustive range of bags for whichever journey you choose to start. And there is no one better than Virat to embody and endorse this philosophy. Whether it is breaking records, or taking on captaincy at a young age, whatever challenge is thrown at Virat, he is always ready for it. The film creates a great visual journey of ‘I’m ready’ with Virat as he goes on to knock the ball with the bat totally unfazed through various barriers. Given its watch-ability, we are sure it will deliver the ‘I’m ready’ theme for American Tourister brilliantly.”
A 360-degree marketing is planned for this campaign. The TVC is followed by a digital challenge – the ‘Tap up challenge’ — conceptualised by Initiative (part of IPG Mediabrands). Taking cue from the most prominent thing in the television commercial – Kohli tapping up the ball with his bat without dropping it — the digital innovation invites consumers to participate in the tapping contest and score maximum number of taps in a minute.
While the digital phase is underway, American Tourister will launch the activation leg of the tap up challenge with the help of Initiative and Rapport (the out-of-home arm of IPG Mediabrands) in eight shopping malls across Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore, with an average footfall of 90,000 during the weekend.
The top scorer from each mall will get a miniature cricket bat with Virat Kohli’s signature and the highest scorer across the country will get a year’s supply of American Tourister travel gear handpicked by Virat Kohli.
Premjeet Sodhi, COO, Initiative, said, “When the client discussed the television commercial with us, we realised that the concept naturally lends itself to a huge innovation. The TVC also has two of the biggest connects with youth – cricket, which is synonymous to religion in India, and Virat Kohli, who is the most popular youth icon. And hence we launched the ‘tap up challenge’ that captures the pulse of today’s youth and beautifully connects with the TG. The campaign is exciting, energetic, unique and reflects the mood of today’s youth who is ready to take any kind of challenge in life.”
After the on-ground activity, digital and mobile will play a critical role in continuing the conversation around the brand for a longer time. Interactive Avenues, the full service digital agency of IPG Mediabrands, has developed an online game, making it an integrated campaign for American Tourister. The game will go live soon.
Kohli said, “I am excited to be associated with American Tourister, India’s largest luggage brand. I think today, great travel gear is more than just a utility or luggage, it symbolises an attitude – to be always ready to step out and embark on your journey with profound confidence. This thought has been reinforced through this campaign that has beautifully captured the true spirit of the Indian youth.”
This is the first time that brand has come up with such an innovative campaign. It will spend about Rs 25 crore over one-and-half months on this campaign. The campaign is spread across television, digital, print, outdoor, radio and on ground.
Client: Samsonite South Asia
Agency: McCann Worldgroup India
National Creative Director: Pradyumna Chauhan
Production House: Crazy Few Films
Director: Anupam Mishra
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