Industry Speak

Hans-Christian Bartels

President (act.)
BMW Group India

DOOH will lead to interesting trends in the future

"As the consumer psychology and preferences change, OOH will have to adapt and recreate. Innovation will get even more competitive and will single out creative brands from the clutter."
January, 2019

allaboutoutdoor.com interviewed Hans-Christian Bartels, President (act.), BMW Group India, on their overall OOH strategies to find out their communication objectives & to understand how outdoor advertising has played a major role in accomplishing their goals.

Excerpts from the interview are as follows:

What role does outdoor advertising have in your scheme of things?

We believe it is imperative to create a certain distinctiveness of brand. Indian consumers strongly associate the BMW brand with exclusively authentic luxury products, which are distinguished by their emotional appeal, uncompromising engineering, innovative technology and outstanding quality. To win them over, all these needs should be met and communicated in the most effective channels.

BMW approach towards advertising has always been progressive and ahead of time. Like our products, our aim at communication has always been to devise content that evokes emotions. We constantly develop interesting and different conceptual campaigns that help us generate very high recall for our brands and products.

OOH media plays an important part in the luxury marketing for targeting affluent consumers. Since we launch many variants and models regularly, outdoor marketing delivers impact at the competitive cost.

Situated at key locations, large format outdoor media creates a remarkable impact by making bold statements. Large-scale advertisements with attractive product imagery create visibility and command consumer attention. Brand equity and brand salience is amplified by iconic sites taken at a high traffic junctions that cater to a wider audience. Continued presence with regular creative changes eventually leads to top of the mind awareness.

Automobile brands as a whole spend a lot on on-ground activation. But one criticism is that activation does nothing for the brand. Do you agree?

Activation does play a key role in helping customer associate with the product, understand features, product substance, price and looks. More importantly, it provides the 'touch and feel' factor and hence brings authenticity to claims. It also helps in reliable lead generation, which can later be converted into sales.

Ground activations are very high investments and can be useful if the right audience is captured. For the premium segment, one needs a very customized / personalized approach. Exclusive and unique activations at premium platforms reach out to high profile customers.

To market an aspirational car brand in a country as diverse as India, it is critical to create memorable experiences and constantly stay in touch through premium brand engagements. We are broadening the horizons, by creating more exclusive touch-points, to connect with our clientele across the country especially in the emerging markets with BMW Mobile Studio (in 50 cities), Motorrad on Tour (in 50 cities), MINI on Tour (in 18 cities), MINI Urban Drive (in 7 cities),  BMW JOYFEST (in 15 cities), BMW xDrive Experience (in 12 cities), BMW M Performance Driver Training (in 4 cities), BMW Golf Cup International (in 12 cities) and recently introduced BMW Culinary Series.

At BMW, we also recognize the cultural perspectives. For us, the understanding of luxury and the appreciation for finer things extends deeper to other aspects of life as well. We are the most aspirational automotive luxury brand in India with innovative channels of engagements in lifestyle, sport, art and culture. Our collaborations with leading cultural platforms across the country bring real 'Joy' to our customers. BMW Art Cars in India, India Art Fair, India Design Week, Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Jodhpur One World Retreat and BMW Guggenheim Labs are engagements that have brought our customers closer to us. 

There are many organizations who often do new launches almost entirely on BTL aided with an outdoor and/or digital blitz? Your view on this. Given rising media costs, do you see BTL managing on its own, without ATL?

In the luxury circle, ATL gets the product into the customer's consideration set while BTL make a decisive difference through word of mouth and premium experience. BTL activities create last mile connection with the prospective clients. In today's connected world, a brand should not depend entirely on a single medium. A carefully curated marketing strategy that allows the right mix of ATL and BTL bearing in mind the desired product placement can create very successful results.

ATL has a premium connotation, top end business paper, TV shows that can be of importance to the target group. It is also a great place to announce, introduce or launch a product.

So, are your marketing spends directed toward acquiring new customers or keeping old ones?

Luxury is a constantly evolving and subjective concept and is not a new experience to India. India has an extensive history and tradition of opulence and wealth. The experienced luxury customers like the royals, industrialists, celebrities and the traditionally rich families have always embraced the finesse of luxury brands and continue to do so. The customer base for luxury cars has evolved tremendously in the last decade. Apart from traditionally wealthy families, a new group of achievers has fast emerged in India who have a global outlook, are well-travelled and have an eye for luxury products.

Young entrepreneurs and corporate leaders are actively shaping demand for the luxury car market. They are achievers who have a dynamic attitude and are technology savvy. With the rise in disposable income, they are not hesitant to spend on luxury products and services. Luxury for them is an indulgence and they want to associate with top brands to make a statement or simply to reward themselves for their achievements. They strongly associate the BMW brand with exclusively authentic luxury products.

Though the Indian luxury market is still at a nascent stage, but it has immense potential with rising purchasing power, growing aspiration for luxury brands and evolving lifestyles. Considering that India has a population of over one billion, there is more potential for growth. Along with the metropolitan centres, there is tremendous growth potential amongst the young achievers, predominantly from tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

What about measuring success? What kind of metrics do you use? Are you all about sales? Do you look at brand awareness? What are you focused on?

The future strategy for India includes new directions, methodologies and prioritisation to become the most desirable premium automotive brand. BMW marketing strategy is focused on a good return on investment. But this can be measured in different ways, through numbers or through the level and nature of brand perception. Through our tough criteria and tools, we regularly quantify the success of our campaigns whether they are ATL / BTL / Digital. This also helps us target our communication better and reach out to the right audience in a much effective manner.

A quantitative approach benefits the advertising industry at large. Organized buying helps bring in efficient purchasing by brands. This leads to transparency and further enhancing the confidence of advertisers.

A qualitative analysis on the other hand provides deeper insights to marketers about how the consumer is reacting and forming opinions. For the brand performance parameters, it is imperative. It also allows a brand to keep ahead of times, take critical decisions and redirect strategy when needed.   

What are the hindrances facing the growth and development of Out-of-Home media from the perspective of a brand owner?

Number of Players: Each year, there is an introduction of new sites. Hence, the inventories keep changing very frequently. Some of these sites, post tenders within few days of installation and this creates an imbalance in both the quality of the earlier site and also dilutes the research of the effectiveness of that site.

Lack of Standardization: There are over a 100 OOH mediums by which a prospective consumer could be targeted. Among these, if we take an example of just the billboard - they are of different sizes too. So, a common unit to measure each cannot be determined.

Changing Landscape: There are constant changes, road development and repair work happening along with metro lines and stations, Foot-over bridges, etc being erected which disrupts the OOH ecosystem. All these new additions add to constant changes in the media plans.

Lack of ROI Numbers/Data: Unlike other media, measurability ranks low in terms of reach and ROI in OOH Media planning. Although there are few industry tools being developed to give supportive data with the OOH plan.

What changes do you anticipate in OOH space?

The shift and integration to digital OOH will lead to interesting trends in the future. As the consumer psychology and preferences change, OOH will have to adapt and recreate. Innovation will get even more competitive and will single out creative brands from the clutter.

Interview by: Aarti Pahwa

Tags :  Hans-Christian Bartels BMW India OOH DOOH

Other Related Industry Speak

Consumer lies at the heart of ...

Sandeep Bommireddi


OOH advertisers will have to e...

Karan Shroff,

VP - Marketing

Being quarantined has changed ...

Atul Srivastava

Group CEO
Laqshya Media Group

A good time to invest...

Mandeep Malhotra

Co-founder and CEO
The SociaL Street

Opportunities around Metro Rai...

Abhinav Iyer

GM- Marketing & Strategy
Muthoot Group

OOH-Digital combination works ...

Abhik Sanyal

Head – Consumer Marketing, DSP Investment Managers
DSP Mutual Fund

OOH- An important part of the ...

Karan Shroff

Vice President Marketing

OOH reinforces both impact and...

Raffic Aslam Ibrahim

Creative Director