Club Mahindra augments reality. Reality bites.

Club Mahindra has attempted ‘interactive’ print ads earlier too. The most famous one so far that I recall is the one using origami, for World Family Day.

Today, they try yet another interactive print advertisement, using augmented reality.

The attempt is alluring enough to try… for younger children, but given that I was keen to know how much intelligence or thought they have put into the ‘secret message’ and how the augmented reality works, I tried it too.

The larger problem is that Club Mahindra is renowned for one terribly wrong reason too – their horrendously persistent cold-call spamming techniques. I have blocked their many numbers on TrueCaller and TrueCaller is full of highly creative names for their numbers, co-created by users thoroughly annoyed by their spam calls.

Despite that, I installed the app and gave them my details (hoping to uninstall the app as soon as this experiment is over, and braving the cold-call spree, ready with a block button).

I loved the basic idea and it has been executed very well too. You don’t really need to colour the picture; that level of faith is only for the younger children among the readers. As older, cynical adults, we could get away with that lack of faith in either Santa Claus or Club Mahindra’s precise instructions.

The help page mentioned in the footer is very useful and precise too.

That it lists multiple apps that may end up in a search result and asks us to pick only ‘Club Mahindra Play’ is a useful addition. The print ads’ 2 QR codes help in this case too, to go to the precise app they are referring to.

The crux of the ad is, of course, the augmented reality experience. What happens there and what is the “Secret Message”?


I’d have loved to see the brand and agency put some more thought into something that is called “secret message”. Why should it be as simple and mind-numbingly bland as ‘write a letter to me and get a chance to see me in Finland’? Couldn’t even one person in the entire brand marketing and agency team think of something slightly more interesting, smarter… particularly when the 2nd part of the ad (behind this front page) has, ‘Wish to meet the real Santa in Finland? Do write to tell him why’?

For all this effort of using papa’s or mama’s phone to invoke the augmented reality, should the so-called secret message be so dumb and simple?

The augmented reality experience, in itself, is one expected lines… if you don’t expect much. It’s largely silly and unidimensional, with no genuine surprise, unless you are 5. That age-range could be the target segment too, I reckon. But if the same age-range is also exposed to much, much better animation from YouTube, the many OTT streaming channels and movies, could such plain and unimaginative animation pass muster?

I do applaud Club Mahindra for trying something (‘something’ at least). But the pay-off seems very poorly thought-through. Particularly for a brand notorious for spamming.



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