Aarti Chhabra, New Delhi
Concepts & Solutions Marketing has been in the business for over five years now. The experiential marketing company specialises in brand activation and consumer outreach programmes and has executed more than 500 campaigns till date. Leading corporates and brands such as Aditya Birla Group, TVS, The Times of India, Abbott Medical Optics, India Today, GPI, DIVSS, Cipla, Apple, Whirlpool, Toyota, Nissan, Orra , Samsung, Sharp, and Virgin Mobile, among others have chosen their ideas and unique approach to get up close and personal with their customers.
In conversation with allaboutoutdoor, Ankit Arora, Director of Concepts & Solution Marketing, speaks about the growth of BTL activations in the country.
1. In the years since the inception of your company, what changes have you seen in brands’ approach to BTL activations?
It’s an incredible time to be a Below the Line organisation – more brands are incubating better approaches to get consideration in non-standard spaces.
In the relatively recent past, we existed in times when each brand sought to be on national telecaster Doordarshan. Simply showing up on DD was seen to be a point of interest status. The mandate for publicising organisations then was to make correspondence that engaged DD’s endless group of onlookers. Of course, this was additionally a period when a solitary organisation would take a shot at creatives, juggle with the media and do each other bit in a battle. Slice to now, and we are utilising terms, for example, Above the Line (ATL) and Below the Line (BTL) for correspondence and there are particular offices and groups inside them for each part of a brand’s life.
ATL and BTL are no Greek suggestions however, they are essentially the two sides of a line that lies between the standard media and the on-ground space. Also obviously, the aptitude of organisations is just a result of advancing media and dividing business sector.
2. According to you, what is the role of BTL in the entire brand building exercise?
In this day and age of competitive brands, an increasing number of brands have started recognising and opting for BTL advertising so as to engage and communicate with their audience personally. Gone are the days when BTL activities were considered to be an add-on to mass media activities. With the fragmentation of media space increasingly rapidly, communicating by “contacting” only isn’t enough anymore. The key is to be able to connect with your audience.
BTL activities lets you go a step forward in terms of brand building and allows you to “tangibilise” not just your product/ service, but the brand itself for your consumers. In recent times, below the line marketing strategies have gained importance in the market given their unique and personal ways to cut through in the otherwise saturated advertising environment. Today, BTL advertising makes for an integral part of the consideration set right at the media strategy stage.
3. How innovative has BTL become, and what are the challenges it still faces?
BTL has gained prominence over the years and will continue to do. Brand partnerships play a very important role in creating unique propositions for designing innovative on-ground programmes. BTL promotions are an integral part as it helps in connecting the brand with the consumers and give them a ‘Touch. Feel. Play.’ experience. In today’s day and age, it is imperative to be present across multiple touch points and to tangibilise the brand.
Lack of quality data is a major challenge that BTL faces as there are as yet no set parameters for evaluation. Another challenge is the infrastructure and operational co-ordination required from global and nationalised brands of mass appeal where delivery to target audience becomes an issue. BTL activation for a mass brand would require innovative use of the media mix to get the desired effect.
4. Which sectors experiment most with BTL activations?
BTL’s exemplary growth over the past two decades has been thanks to rising disposable incomes, rise in modern retail and an increasing access to consumer. Almost every industry, be it FMCG, telecom, consumer durables, luxury goods, and automobiles, is making use of BTL aggressively now. While some brands have taken their BTL spending to almost 40 per cent of their marketing spends, others are gradually catching up.
5. Do you think brand activations have a more lasting impact as compared to ATL marketing?
Brand activations are, by design, about creating memories and experiences. When brands get up close and personal with their consumers in ways they cannot forget, the impact is bound to be long lasting. When you experience something for yourself, the impact is undeniably lasting, that’s what gives brand activations an edge.
6. How do you evaluate the effectiveness of the activations?
Activation creates action which could be sale, generating a lead or sampling a product. There used to be a misconception that activation doesn’t deliver results. On the contrary, it measures results and not milestones when compared to advertising. The key benefit is that you can influence behaviour and that can be done on the spot to see the result. In advertising, behavioural change can only be gauged post facto and people cannot be influenced on an interactive basis. If someone has a question, advertising cannot answer it.
7. Could you talk about your most challenging experience in all these years?
We have faced the challenges of rising rental cost of space. Malls that make for a prime venue for activation are getting more expensive. As other expenses rise, the first cut suggested maintaining the budget is the agency’s fees.