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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Hrithik Roshan features in Hero’s latest campaign, showcasing the brand’s new Karizma

In August 2023, Hero MotoCorp reintroduced the iconic Hero Karizma motorcycle, stirring attention with a fresh campaign titled “Live The Legend.” Crafted by L&K Saatchi & Saatchi, the campaign showcases the new Karizma XMR, blending contemporary style with the franchise’s classic charm. Hrithik Roshan, known for his cinematic presence, not only revitalizes the signature visuals but also lends his voice to the film, evoking nostalgia and celebrating the bike’s enduring legacy.

Originally launched in collaboration with the Japanese automobile brand Honda in 2003, the Karizma quickly gained popularity. Building on its success and the bike’s allure, the brand introduced a new variant in 2007, known as Karizma R. However, after parting ways with Honda Motors in 2011, the bike’s sales began to decline until its discontinuation in 2019. While the franchise has been one of the pioneering bikes in the sports bike segment in India, retaining some of that appeal while targeting new customers has its own challenges.

Unlike the 2000s, the market now is saturated with competitors. So, with the new campaign, Hero is aiming to woo all the enthusiasts— the ones who grew up watching the iconic Karizma commercials, and those who are new to the game and appreciate the franchise’s legacy. The new campaign captures the essence of a bygone era, weaving together sepia-toned memories with the contemporary dynamism of the revitalised Hero Karizma. Hrithik Roshan, astride the bike, is once again, after nearly two decades, the face of the campaign. And the voice.

Given the brand’s palpable legacy and the considerable expectations surrounding it, what was the genesis of the entire campaign? Kartik Smetacek, Chief Creative Officer at L&K Saatchi & Saatchi, provides insights into the creative process and the hurdles encountered along the way.

He reveals that the brand’s directive was straightforward: introduce the new Karizma XMR in a way that resonates with today’s audiences. Recognising the magnitude of this launch as the company’s flagship event for the year, the agency, entrusted with a significant portion of the premium portfolio, rolled up its sleeves.

He said, “When we started digging deeper into the brand, we realised this was not just another bike. The name Karizma occupies a unique place in the hearts of bikers across the country. Even today, it evokes powerful feelings of reverence, nostalgia and sheer awe. So, our idea for the launch of the XMR was to harness all this brand love, and activate it in a way that creates an aura around the next avatar of this legendary name.”

Smetacek says, “The keyword was balance. We needed to use the brand’s legacy to create an aura for the new bike.”

Balancing the vintage Karizma identity and appealing to the new-gen consumers was the crux of the matter. The agency aimed to use the brand’s legacy to create captivating aesthetics for the XMR, while concurrently presenting it as a cutting-edge, all-new machine.

“We couldn’t rely on legacy alone to appeal to today’s buyer.”

The iconic duo of Hrithik Roshan and Karizma was one of those campaigns that gained an absurd amount of recall amongst consumers. While the first-ever ad for Karizma saw Roshan evade a fighter jet, a few years later the actor was seen taking on a biker gang with his yellow Karizma. At the time, the Bollywood blockbuster Dhoom had already instilled a taste for speed and thrill amongst the biking community of the nation.

In 2009, Roshan was featured in a commercial for the last Karizma model, ZMR, before the franchise was discontinued in 2019.

It isn’t a stretch to suggest that the Dhoom 2 actor would be the only sensible celebrity choice for Karizma’s new launch. As per Smetacek, the actor’s larger-than-life aura, and iconic status, perfectly align with the brand. 

He says, “Hrithik and Karizma are synonymous with each other and have been for decades. While we set about reigniting this historic connection, the challenge was to ensure that the legacy doesn’t overshadow the new bike. He is and will remain powerfully associated with the brand. This is one of those rare instances when the vibe of the brand and the brand endorser match perfectly.”

In the pre-launch phase, Hrithik played a pivotal role, leveraging his famous hat-lifting scene to generate anticipation for the upcoming bike. The actor also took the stage at the launch event, unveiling the Karizma XMR to the country, further solidifying his association with the brand.

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