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Tuesday, May 21, 2002

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Enfield banks on nature to sell Thunderbird

Janaki Murali

BANGALORE, May 20

WATCH out for this ad that has set out to woo the `macho, regular guy' who wants to escape the `troubles and tensions of the city'.

And in so doing he can also run away from the wife, the two brats and the dog, and all the vacationing equipment - like the tent, fishing rods and tricycles and of course all that food - that the four-wheeler manufacturers have been telling him were a must on any vacation.

For all he needs on this vacation is to "get on and get away" on his new Thunderbird. Alone and unaccompanied. "Where the silence meets the soul." The visual in the background is of a wild, untamed expanse of nature and the biker and his bike, for "you won't find this place on any map, chart or tourist guide. Because the only destination on this journey is the horizon".

These are the latest print ads for Royal Enfield's 350 cc Thunderbird. Says Mr Naveen Malhotra, Product Manager, Royal Enfield, "The bike is a cruiser. It allows the customer to enjoy the great outdoors and hence is positioned as freedom or escape."

The ad also talks about `eight great escapes from Bangalore city'. All the places featured in the ad are beautiful nature tourism venues in Karnataka - Ranganathittu, Kudremukh, Bandipur national park, Malpe beach, Nagarhole national park, Mekedatu, Kemmanagundi and Jog waterfalls.

Asked whether Royal Enfield planned to carry similar tourist spots of the relevant State, when the ads appear in other cities, Mr Malhotra said, "Yes, this is our thought, but it may not be possible in all centres as the media cost varies and may not allow us to take big ads in all centres. We definitely want to collate the escape places for cities as we are sure that customers would like to know of such places."

While Royal Enfield hopes to "sell more bikes" through these ads, it also hopes "to reinforce the company's

position as the power and leisure bike leaders of India", as Mr Malhotra adds. Royal Enfield does not have any plan to "go on TV for Thunderbird at this point", with similar ads.

Meanwhile the Great Escape ad also has a contest where a potential customer can hope to win a trip to Goa or Munnar at a Club Mahindra resort. To enter the contest all the customer has to do is to test-drive the bike at any of the Enfield dealers' outlets. According to Mr Malhotra, the reason Munnar and Goa were chosen instead of any of the spots in Karnataka mentioned in the ad, was because "these are two wonderful places bikers would love to explore, and since this contest is not only for people buying but also taking a test ride, we thought these places were great escapes."

The company has not tied up with the tourism department for information appearing in the ads, which means Karnataka's nature tourism has managed to get an inadvertent boost from the Thunderbird ads!

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