In 2007, I got a chance to experience my first cultural shock in London. Pub hopping and sight seeing kept me busy after work hours, which is also the time I set eyes upon a weird culture – uncool motorcycle bikers, although they rode the best bikes in the world, they were all covered up. Thanks to my Bollywood upbringing, riding with just a pair of sunglasses was the coolest thing for me. My first learning on riding – not just a helmet but you need to wear proper gear for your safety as well as others.
Still, many states in India do not follow the simple compulsory helmet rule!
According to a 2015 report, India’s daily death toll due to road accidents is more than four times the annual death toll from terrorism. As many as 139,671 people lost their lives on India’s roads during 2014 – 382 deaths every day. Two-wheelers who have the largest share of vehicles on Indian roads, accounted for the largest number of fatalities. In 2014, 30% of all road deaths were of riders/passengers on two-wheelers.
We couldn’t find latest data, but the numbers are bound to increase as the conditions remain more or less the same. In a move to change the mindset of safety beyond helmets and promote the concept of using purpose-built gear for motorcycling, Royal Enfield along with creative agency Wieden+Kennedy, launched #REGear.
Royal Enfield offers a range of protective as well as urban gear. Giving more details about both the gears Samrat Som, head, apparel and accessories, Royal Enfield informs that the urban gear has a gamut of textile jackets, t-shirts, denims, etc. for the leisurely city runs, suited well for both on and off the motorcycle. While the protective gear on the other hand, befits a more challenging terrain and long riding distances where the rider will encounter many rough stretches, some places with no sight of even the tarmac, water crossings, temperatures ranging from 50 degrees to sub-zero, to downpours etc.
“Motorcyclists make it a point to wear all the gear when they travel far. But when commuting in the city or visiting a nearby café, they might not use the gear. Realistically, one is equally prone to a mishap on a short city run as while on a long ride. While personal protection is the primary objective, protective gear is likely to be used more often if it is comfortable to wear and if it looks good.”
“Protection, comfort and style – that’s the philosophy we follow while designing and developing our gear.”
To promote both the kind of gears, the brand recently launched two ad films. “One film focuses on our protective gear range and the other on the urban gear range. Both the films were released at the same time for our audience. Depending on one’s motorcycling preferences, one will find either one or both the propositions appealing.”
Shot in the exacting and awe-inspiring locales of Darjeeling’s Lebong Valley, Maharashtra’s Hemalachi Tanda and Sikkim’s Yumthang Valley, the film captures Royal Enfield riders showcasing the authentic use of Royal Enfield Gear in extreme riding situations.
The second film celebrates motorcycling way of life through new expressions across Royal Enfield urban gear.
Apart from launching the videos on the digital and social media platforms, the brand has an interesting digital extension for its urban gear campaign.
Royal Enfield still stands for its timeless beauty and simplicity. But times are changing; today riders and mechanics have transformed their bike in a deeper pursuit. “Earlier it was enough to have a motorcycle to ride on. But people now want a special something, and they go a little further to get that special motorcycle with individual traits in it.”
Samrat further adds customization was there in Indian market for a while and it is growing now, but it was largely unorganized. “Recently we saw a spate of custom builders coming into play, which is encouraging.”
“We wanted to celebrate the whole journey that Royal Enfield kick-starts within a person and that’s why this whole story of custom builders started.”
Explaining the process of hunting custom bike makers, the brand sought out four custom builders (Bull City Customs, In Line3 Customs, Bombay Custom Works, and TNT Motorcycles) known for their technical skills and artistic finesse. “We gave them a motorcycle each as their blank canvas. We gave them a basic brief and asked to go all out and create custom one-offs.”
Here is a video that tells about the life of custom builders. “They are essentially helping create sharper expressions for individuals.” And the brand is celebrating the same – the individuality and the journey to find oneself.
In addition, there are 6 more videos telling individual stories on how they are building custom motorbikes. One such story of the makers of Bombay Custom Works:
The campaign will end at the Rider Mania event – the biggest gathering of Royal Enfield riders and enthusiasts in the world which will host the reveal of all the four custom made bikes.
Apart from the video storytelling for the urban gear campaign on social media, the brand has used blogger and micro-blogger outreach to spread awareness. “We conducted Twitter chat session through influencers and brand advocates from across interest groups to reach out to a newer set of audience.”
#REGear – building experience for biker community
Royal Enfield remains a digital first company and this campaign has been about creating an all-encompassing experience. Explaining the philosophy, Samrat states, “If you watch the urban gear video series and then walk into any one of our exclusive gear stores in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune or Bangalore; you will see one of the custom motorcycles installed there. Each of these motorcycles is a work of art, which can be best experienced in person. We want our (the brand’s) friends & the brand enthusiasts to physically experience the motorcycle as much as we want them touch & feel our gear.”
At the core #REGear has been about promoting safety on roads beyond helmet. While there is awareness for protective gear among serious bikers but pushing the philosophy of urban gear is what the brand is looking for. The extension of the campaign and connecting with custom made motorcycles is an exciting brand thought process.
— Royal Enfield (@royalenfield) May 26, 2017
However, the Twitter chat that the brand did along with Blog Chatter was apparently not worth its while. Most of the participants were contest players – the bunch that claims to be influencers in everything from technology to travel to food and lifestyle. I did find one or two avid bike riders in the chat but was that enough? It is understood that the brand is looking for a wider audience for #REGear but there are better means to gain reach. It is better to have a meetup or a Twitter chat with avid biking enthusiasts or those who have a sense of biking gear. Their knowledge and influence would be more beneficial and bring greater reach to a brand like Royal Enfield.
With the changing times, the brand has touched upon the pulse of riders and custom motorbikes will definitely make its reach bigger. Creating the video series and installing a custom made motorbike leads to a great consumer experience. A beautifully thought-through way of bridging the online and offline gap, with probable increased number of store walk-ins. (For months, I have been thinking about modifying my Classic 500, now I have a reason to walk into the store!)