The messaging could have been more proactive in the initial phase of the launch, experts said. As it could have been when the project had to beat a retreat from the Singur factory site in West Bengal or when some cars began catching fire.
"A series of factors has impacted the Nano, right from the Singur issue to cars catching fire to clumsy marketing strategy," said Autocar India editor Hormazd Sorabjee. "There was a bit of overconfidence at the start and not much marketing push from the company. The hype fizzled out even before Tata Motors could effectively roll out sizeable (number of) cars on the road."
A person close to the company said, "Somehow it got slotted as a Rs 1-lakh car or a cheap car. Tata Motors did not intend to position it like that, but they did not do enough to manage perceptions." Making too much of the price tag was a mistake, said Zia Patel, principal at leading international brand consultant, Wolff Olins, and head of strategy for India.
"The value engineering and innovation was brilliant. But it was never quite clear who the car was for. Was it to replace a two-wheeler for commuting, was it a second car for an affluent family or an aspirational first car for a 30-year-old, or was it for all of these people?" Patel said. To be sure, even Mercedes had two false starts before getting its pitch for the Smart car right.
A company spokesperson agreed that the Nano became a victim of its own hype. The marketing pitch is now aimed at breaking that image and giving the brand a more emotive personality as a mobility solution, a smart city car. The Nano Awesomeness ad campaign is a step in that direction.
The ad video seems to have been popular with more than 3.7-lakh likes on Facebook and more than 20,000 comments. The TV commercial got 5-million views on YouTube in less than 30 days of being aired, the highest for any automotive brand TVC in India.
The 'smart city car' idea arose from talking to car owners. "Owners have