Responses by Matteo Alabiso, design director, Droga5 London.
Background: For Royal Enfield, a Chennai-based motorcycle brand with products designed for the unpredictability of the Himalayas, this new global identity takes inspiration from the change-of-plan mindset required when traversing the infamous mountain range. To launch the all new Himalayan 450, we engineered this campaign for bikers around the world—both men and women. We wanted to reflect that by celebrating the harsh but exciting reality that only an engine, two wheels and a landscape to conquer can give them. Our aim for this campaign was to excite viewers at the prospect of this unique reality and ultimately get them geared up to go take that journey themselves.
Royal Enfield launched its iconic motorcycle in 2016. Since then, it has become the staple ride in the Himalayas, and it also broke open and took control of the mid-size adventure bike category. The premise behind its products is that they can be the one bike you need in your stable—the off road adventurer, the city commuter and the long-range tourer alike. It’s for everyone, thanks to its accessible weight/power ratio. Beyond its practical elements, however, we had to re-enforce the unique relationship between the bike and the mountain range for which it is named, hammering home the relationship between brand and product.
Design thinking: The adventure category is dominated by high-octane comms: powerful bikes tearing up deserts and dunes. We wanted to show a more authentic perspective on the adventure category by focusing on the flow state that riders get into when they’re in tune with the machine and the mountain.
We arrived at the notion that the Himalayan is “built by the Himalayas.” Therefore, it’s ready for any change of plan that the mountain range throws at you. This change-of-plan mindset was key to the idea: a lightweight, midrange engine perfect for the challenges that adventure biking throws up, perfect for when plans change.
A key device in the identity—the line—takes viewers on a visual journey that is as unpredictable as the one that they would navigate themselves. The campaign identity flexes from OOH and social sites to a product book, merchandise and apparel, where the visual language proved its malleability and strength in telling the same unpredictable adventure story in a multitude of ways.
Challenges: The shoot itself! We shot in the Ladakh region, the highest plateau in India with altitudes starting at 3,000 meters (~9,800 ft.). And, shooting was pretty full-on due to the long distances we traveled between locations, especially when we were aiming to shoot sunrise and sunset when the landscape was at its best. Plans changed and changed again—and then once more—because, of course, the mountains had other plans. It was a lot, what with bouts of altitude sickness and changing locations to chase the best light. But as ever, rising to that challenge yielded results, and we were so pleased with what came out of this.
Favorite details: What I love about this campaign is that it feels intuitive, it’s elemental and it invites the viewer to decode it. We found the perfect balance between clear messaging and maintaining an element of discovery. The viewer gets to experience the adventure firsthand, leaving them wanting to take on a harsh journey that only the Royal Enfield Himalayan could take on.
New lessons: Adapting to anything the Himalayas threw at us. Landslides, blocked roads, altitude sickness—these were just some of the things we had to deal with. We had to think on our feet, and coordinating the team—even though we were small and nimble—proved challenging. On the other hand, though, we had one of the most mesmerizing landscapes on Earth to shoot on location with, and Achille Mauri’s photography showcases the Himalayas’ harsh beauty and gritty, exhilarating reality of taking a road trip through the mountain range.
This was our first project with Royal Enfield, and we learned a ton about its business and position as a global brand with a hugely active community and fanatical riders. This reminded us of what brilliant clients are like to work with: we built this campaign together.