Tata Harrier’s film for World Sign Language Day. Yes, you read that right.

September 23rd is World Sign Language Day. I don’t expect you to know that, but it is a good-to-know fact.

Tata Harrier took it way too seriously this year. Now, as a normal consumer, I LOVE Tata Harrier’s looks. The best compliment I can give the car is that it doesn’t look like what I’d expect conventionally from a ‘Tata’ vehicle at all. I saw it on the road one day, was mighty impressed and was wondering which car it was. When I noticed the Tata logo, I was zapped!

But, this post is not about Tata Harrier the car. This is about Tata Harrier’s video for 2019 World Sign Language Day.

This one.

Now, the story is simple and empathetic. Nothing extraordinary, but a good story, told with heart.

The bigger question is, why is Tata Harrier telling us this story? Where does Tata Harrier fit into the sign language or empathy angle, if at all it does? I see that they have really tried to force-fit a connection by adding that the language of humanity is ‘above all’, the caption used by Tata Harrier. But I really don’t see any connect or fit.

Tata Harrier has not previously thrown its weight behind a cause, like this. When brands indulge in social messages like this, they look at fitting it into something they already do or known for. This attempt, while well-intended, seems completely out of place.

In this connection, here’s a good, recent report from Ogilvy, called ‘Making Brands Matter for the Generations to Come‘. (PDF, 513 KB).

The report outlines the reasons and modes of how brands enter social messaging as one-off initiatives and evolve as consumers demand more from them. It’s a great report that showcases, with lots of examples, how brands can utilize social cause messaging while staying true to the cause.

I felt that the Tata Harrier film seemed completely removed from what the sub-brand has been associated with or spoken about, till now. And seems out of context and out of place. The message is great, no doubt, but without a genuine brand connect (and the only connection being that the people in the film drive to the ‘Katha – Sign Language coaching center’ in a Tata Harrier – obviously!) the effort seems way too forced. Almost as if the brand’s team and the agency team found a ‘day’ worth ‘using’ and created a piece of content that could potentially go ‘viral’ for its own sake.

I could question my own perspective above, with: “If the message is good and well-intended, how does it matter if it connects to the brand or not? Just take the good message and move on”!

The only hitch here is that brands are not in the business of altruism. They exist to make a profit. This video does not sell Tata Harrier in any meaningful way. It sells a good thought. From that perspective, there is no specific reason for Tata Harrier to expend money to produce this video, because, as I mentioned, Tata Harrier, the brand is not in the social service sector.