Before U.S. dealers sell the first imported Mahindra pickup, its Indian manufacturer will conduct an ad campaign to introduce the company.
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., of Mumbai, plans to become the first Indian automaker to sell vehicles here at the end of the year when it introduces a compact diesel pickup through more than 300 Mahindra retailers.
But before then, the president of Mahindra's automotive sector, Pawan Goenka, thinks U.S. consumers need more familiarity with the Mahindra name.
"We have several businesses here, and there will be more, but we are not well-known yet," Goenka told Automotive News. Mahindra employs about 4,000 in the United States, primarily in its tractor operations and information services.
"We must first introduce the Mahindra brand name to the U.S. consumers -- nothing to do with trucks," Goenka said. "Mahindra will solely handle that, and it will start two or three months before we start selling trucks."
He said Mahindra is taking on a threefold mission: launch a compact diesel truck, introduce the Mahindra name and sell the idea of buying a vehicle from India, a country not recognized in the West for automaking.
The pickup will be imported and distributed by an independent private U.S. company, Global Vehicles U.S.A. Inc., of Alpharetta, Ga.
Mahindra and Global Vehicles together will handle the truck's launch in the second phase of advertising. Global will handle the third phase, local dealer co-op advertising, by itself.
A mile or so away from Global Vehicles' offices, Mahindra has set up a marketing office in Alpharetta. Managing the office is Sanjeev Mahoni, a Mahindra senior vice president, and Bob Masone, a former marketing executive with Ford Motor Co.'s truck operations and with Navistar Corp.
Goenka declined to say how much Mahindra will spend advertising its name. He said Strawberry Frog, a New York branding agency, is developing the campaign. Strawberry Frog has worked with Chevrolet in Europe, as well as Pepsi and Heineken.
"It will be a modest launch spend compared to what other companies spend," Goenka said. "But it will be a fairly significant spend for us."