BTL Advertising Set to Overthrow Mass Media?

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on January 26, 2013

Traditional advertising is gradually loosing its stronghold over the masses. This trend can be attributed to several factors including overcrowding of the traditional media with hordes of products, advances made in technology and the intense war to gain entry into the ever diminishing consumer attention span. Another major reason why marketers and advertising gurus have shifted the combat to another domain is the fact that consumers are becoming inert to such advertising after being bombarded with it over the years. There is too much clutter on the traditional bandwidth which makes it very hard for a consumer to absorb what information is being shared. During the previous decade the scene was different, where the number of products being advertised zilch was compared to that being advertised now. Moreover BTL activities allow a company to reach each of its target segments individually.

More effective forms of convincing like guerrilla marketing, internet advertising, mobile advertising, viral campaign, product placements and other Below The Line (BTL) activities are slowly and steadily inching their way into the total budget allocated for marketing in several companies. BTL advertising, which uses unconventional brand-building and promotional strategies, such as direct mail, sales promotions, flyers, point-of-sale, telemarketing and printed media (for example brochures) – and usually involves no motion graphics. It is much more effective than when the target group is very large and difficult to define.

For example in Bajaj Allianz, the marketing budget for BTL activities for a year ranges from eight to nine crores. According to LK Gupta of LG Electronics, 60% of the company's marketing budget is going towards BTL activities, against 35-40% three years ago. According to Gupta, the vice president-marketing, "With increasing choices, the consumer has become more discerning, Therefore, ground activations are gaining traction due to the added impact they give beyond the media clutter."

Luxury cars have huge sums of money spent on BTL activities and for some brands an equal amount of money is spent on both ATL and BTL activities. German brand BMW is estimated to be the biggest spender with annual marketing spends of Rs. 50 crore. BMW has recently launched its new car MINI in India, once it realized that Indian fans contributed to the maximum number of likes on its Facebook page. BMW has also decided to spend a huge portion of its marketing budget for MINI on BTL activities. However the reason this time is a little different! According to Mini India, Head- Bejamin Nagel Mini is a premium brand and not a mass one therefore mass advertising won’t do the trick. MINI will join hands with several creative and events agencies in order to come up with unique ideas to promote the brand. Dummy models of the car were placed on rooftops of skyscrapers and was seen floating on a lake in Delhi as a part of its daring marketing strategy. Similar strategies were seen as a part of BMW’s international promotional campaigns; however this move is definitely radical for the Indian sub continent. Furthermore in a Bollywood movie that is in the pipeline Saif Ali Khan driving a Mini which is a form of product placement. BMW will also have an experiential campaign running side by side its guerrilla marketing campaign.

With markets moving rural, there is an additional reason to increase the consumer interface. Dhara, from the Mother Dairy stable, with its thrust on tier-II towns, has been spending considerable amount on wall paintings, ‘mela’ participation and out-of-home advertising. “Almost 75 per cent of our marketing expenditure is spent on below-the-line and out-of-home advertising to gain visibility at the ground level in rural areas, which is where we are predominantly present,” says Dinesh Agrawal, Chief Operating Officer, Dhara.

Daikin Airconditioning India Pvt Ltd, spends almost 60-70 per cent of their marketing expenditure on out-of-home activites. “We have adopted close to 450 colonies in Delhi-NCR and have put up hoardings on colony gates to spread awareness about our products. This has been replicated in Gujarat and Punjab, too,” says Kanwal Jeet Jawa, Managing Director, Daikin Air-conditioning India Pvt Ltd.

If you want engagement, BTL is the only option according to Sanjay Tripathy, EVP and Head-Marketing, HDFC Standard Life.The brand actually claims to be the highest spender on BTL activites in the insurance category. It is taking  its ‘Sar Utha ke Jiyo’ campaign one step ahead, HDFC Standard Life has created a music album by the same name. In fact a live concert ‘Swabhiman’ was organized to announce the launch of the album.

A downside to BTL can be that people might find it a little to intruding to some viewers and might shun the brand all together. In 2010 Time Of India, Mumbai edition came out with an advertisement for Volkswagen which had a little battery attached to it such that when that particular page was opened a pre recorded voice would actually list out qualities of the new car that was being advertised. The Mumbai crowd who had not even recovered from the November 2008 fiasco, were startled and in fact thought it was a real bomb. It resulted in a few people actually coming to the TOI office to fire the crew.

BTL advertising is definitely a refreshing change from the familiar played and re-played ad's of traditional mass media. Its is the marketer's way to make the customer feel special and differentiated from the crowd. And from the looks of it, it is not just a trend but is here to stay, with all the heavy weights doing it the BTL way. Definitely BTL can never achieve the charm of mass media. It may catch our attention for that moment but it could never replace the catchy jingles, funny scenes and cheeky taglines that we see on TV and newspaper. BTL and mass media hence, are two sides to the same coin and need to exist symbiotically to continuously engage and delight the customer.

This article has been authored by Bryony Pereira from Goa Institute of Management.

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