Jonty Rhodes to promote Isuzu Motors India's utility vehicle 'V-Cross'

The ad portrays the V-Cross as India’s only adventure utility vehicle
To use a cliche, cricket is not merely a sport in India but a religion. To leverage this wild following for the sport cutting across gender and age cohorts, Isuzu Motors has signed up former South African cricketing legend and adventure enthusiast, Jonty Rhodes, as ambassador for its utility vehicle, the V-Cross. Its hopes are not misplaced — in 2017-18, sales of SUVs in India grew much faster than passenger cars fuelled by new age compact models. According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, 0.92 million SUVs were sold in 2017-18 compared to 0.76 million a year ago.

The car maker was keen to sign on someone who is associated with cricket and has a close connection with India. Rhodes satisfies both the conditions. His daughter was born here and is named India.

The television commercial (TVC), titled ‘Be the game changer’, puts the spotlight on Isuzu’s ‘never stop’ philosophy and Rhodes’ exceptional performance on the field of cricket. The campaign captures the former cricketer traversing through rough terrain, enjoying the journey along with his wife and two kids. “Rhodes, known for his impressive and outstanding cricketing career, brings in a lot of value to the brand Isuzu and stands for everything that defines its core attributes of reliability, performance, excellence on the one hand, and innovative, consistent and aspirational qualities on the other,” says Ken Takashima, deputy managing director, Isuzu Motors India.

Screenshot from ISUZU advertisement featuring Jonty Rhodes
Created by R K Swamy Hansa, the campaign is targeted at the young and aspiring Indian who seeks a differentiated lifestyle. The car makers’ target group also includes families that are increasingly willing to travel on the weekends. According to S Narasimhan, senior vice-president, R K Swamy Hansa, “As the only passenger pick-up vehicle in the Indian market the challenge for the V-Cross has been the absence of a pick-up lifestyle in the country. How does one persuade the Indian customer to consider the V-Cross as an exciting new driving experience that complements their lifestyles — be it work, play, leisure — was the key challenge we needed to address.”

The ad portrays the V-Cross as India’s only adventure utility vehicle — spacious, muscular and loaded with features. The Isuzu D-MAX V-Cross is priced at Rs 1.4 million for the standard variant and Rs 1.6 million for the high grade variant (ex-showroom, Delhi). The car maker is looking to establish the V-Cross as the best value for money product in the category.

A senior chief creative officer from a leading ad agency is of the view that the carmaker could have picked up another sport and an upcoming player, a non-cricketer, to prove that it’s a class apart from others. With the growing popularity of sports such as badminton, tennis, shooting etc — the carmaker had plenty of choices to showcase that it indeed stands for something that is classy and different.

Besides the V-Cross, Isuzu Motors’ portfolio comprises vehicles such as the D-MAX pick-up and the mu-X SUV. According to the latest figures available, the car maker crossed cumulative sales of 10,000 units in March 2018. The company has a manufacturing plant in SriCity, Andhra Pradesh.

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