Out of the old memory box; sharing a campaign that once rocked the rural market!

In my entire career, there is this one campaign called “LALKAAR” that I couldn’t stop talking about though it is a decade old story. Impactful and frugal, it is the story of new product positioning exercise done by Eicher tractors.

Being in this profession for so many years, I feel advertising is about reconsidering the things that we usually walk past. While it is continuously evolving through the years; good advertising and marketing makes a dent in the memory forever. In my entire career, there is this one campaign called “LALKAAR” that I couldn’t stop talking about though it is a decade old story. Impactful and frugal, it is the story of new product positioning exercise done by Eicher tractors.

Eicher used to be a well established brand in small tractor category. While Eicher 241/242 apart from being preferred choices for small horsepower tractors were also thought to be good for tracking husbands in fields (courtesy noisy single cylinder engine). When small HP segment started shrinking the challenge with Eicher’s product management and marketing team was to break the small HP tractor manufacturer stigma and get a sizable mind space in higher HP segment.

Various communication programs were evaluated and finally Eicher’s Marketing team came out with a unique and bold idea for its times. The core strategy was “CHALLENGE’ the most prominent brand to get immediate attention. To better understand the ideology and draw learning let’s take current example of Arivnd Kerjariwal who did something similar to capture quick attention and acceptance. Instead of taking mediocre route he challenged the “Congress” the most powerful political party then and results are known to everyone.

So, the creative minds came together and mapped the competition to identify vacant space in higher HP segment. It is found that most of the bigger tractors were positioned on performance platform and judged on the basis of quality and performance. However it was learnt that for farmers bigger meant more power and none of the biggies talked about this important and significant parameter. Eicher team decided to place its newest offering in Higher HP segment Eicher 485 –( a 42HP tractor) into this unique and directly correlating “POWER” slot and position it as “the most powerful tractor” in its category. That gave birth to the historic campaign in tractor industry; even after a decade no one has been able to replicate the same.

Hold the breath, the real story goes as follow;

As the whole campaign was designed around challenging the most established brands in higher segment, it was hence christened “LALKAR” (“roaring challenge”) which also goes well with the power savvy rural folks.

Diligent home work was done by the team that conducted various mock field trials, comparing product superiority with various other competing models. We also thoughtfully prepared a list of possible fallouts and anticipated on- field issues, working out some smart tricks to counter the same. A whole new exercise, first of its kind in tractor industry and Eicher history was taking shape. This was a highly aggressive marketing exercise which could make and break Eicher brand in higher segment. Hence management was not taking any chance and the best team was put in place. The whole exercise was steer-headed by Rajan Aggarwal, Marketing Manager.

The entire communication program was designed around the power platform and positioned Eicher 485 as the most powerful tractor in its category. “LALKAR” threw an open challenge in the market and invited other tractors to dare and beat Eicher 485 in the power play field operations.
With enthusiasm a pilot run was done in one district of Haryana with controlled communication. As expected it created immediate buzz in the market. The competitors expressed their instant disbelief and laughed off the exercise, which of course was the expected reaction and indicated that Eicher had hit the right spot.

In its first run itself, ten times the audience gathered, taking the number of guest farmers to 1000. The news started spreading in surrounding villages and people started pouring from across the countryside. The first ‘LALKAR’ lasted a whole day. Eicher 485 was beating tractor after tractor and that was astounding for farmers and contractors. How come someone comes, challenges, defeats their loved tractors and go. It was just not acceptable to them and hence more and more farmers started bringing their tractors and later on started exceeding HP category which went up to 50 HP (20% more than Eicher 485). I guess, the luck and small trick played gave eicher the advantage , eicher deployed farmers who would get on the tractor while the race was on , increasing weight would increase the traction and would get necessary speed to beat other brands, Eicher and 485 stood out that day as a winner in all trials. Farmers raised doubts about its declared HP and thought some manipulation was done within. After a daylong high energy field battle, one thing was clear to the Eicher team that they have hit it right and hit it hard. In a single month Eicher sold over 100 tractors in that one dealership. Enthusiasm of dealers and the team touched new a high and they decided to go ahead full throttle and scaled up activities with full energy. Multiple teams were put in place and quickly Eicher covered key markets like Haryana, Punjab and UP. The other beauty of this exercise was its frugality. In less than crore rupees of budget, within a year Eicher brand stood out in higher HP segment and in very first year of introduction sold couple of thousand tractors.

Success Story continued for many year

Eicher 485 became a flagship model for the company and ruled the 42 HP segment for many years.Later on Eicher introduced water cooled higher HP series.Today over 80% sales contribution of Eicher brand is coming from higher HP segment.
So, decade back there was no such company who could even think of an open challenge like this. The campaign was one-of-its-kind and a real crowd puller. It lasted for more than a year. Travelled from Haryana to other states. And, in this span of time Eicher 485 beat up all its competitors and became an eye candy for all. Nailing it down, right and center; the tractor actually stood out in the power segment and created a niche for itself since then.
The reason why I am kind of going back in time and talking about Lalkaar is because this campaign always had something to learn from. And, it still has. It was one of the most effective rural campaigns I have ever come across. It reminds me of the fact that as an advertiser it is important to fathom socio-cultural realities of the target group first and then chart out a success plan for a brand.

So, getting inspired from one of the oldest rural sports called kushti – Lalkaar proved to be an equally exciting challenge for the target group. Even today, it truly is an example for everyone trying to tap rural markets.

With inputs from:
Rajan Aggarwal, Campaign Creator and executer, adjudged “Most talented rural marketing professional, 2014, by CMO council, Asia
Rajan cherishes a dream, to touch the life of 118 million Indian farmers & improve their lively hood, get them due respect in society by empowering them with appropriate farming solutions & platform.

A thorough professional with in-depth understanding of business, possessing a rich experience in rural market space, having skills spanning sales, marketing, brand communication, product management, portfolio management, tracking PLC Rajan has been instrumental in the successful launch of new product series, styling, new models, brands & sub brands via national level mega marketing program and events. He is known for his ability to quickly adapt, learn newer techniques and out-of-the-box thinking clubbed with excellent business acumen.

He has widely travelled across the major markets in India, Asia, Europe and is deeply connected with Indian rural market, Agriculture farm machinery industry, policy makers & stake holders. He is a regular participant in various leading professional forums and also presents key note papers to the prominent national institutions.

Rajan is a reputed thought leader.
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