BTL Baatein: Interview with Kamal Basu of Volkswagen in new weekly series powered by VISCOMM

23 Apr,2015

Kamal Basu

Head of Marketing & PR – Volkswagen Passenger Cars

Volkswagen Group Sales India Pvt Limited


A seasoned marketing professional with over 25 years of experience in advertising and marketing, Kamal Basu was appointed as Head, Marketing and PR at Volkswagen from January 1, 2015. Prior to this, he has worked with Skoda Auto India as Marketing Head and has contributed to Skoda’s performance in India over the last three years. He has spent close to two decades working with leading advertising agencies like Rediffusion Y&R, Ogilvy and with Saatchi & Saatchi as CEO.


In his current role as the Head, Marketing & PR at Volkswagen Passenger Cars India, Mr. Basu plays a key role in developing the strengths of the Volkswagen brand in India. Mr. Basu has done his marketing management from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, and is passionate about cricket, movies and travelling.


How important is BTL to your overall marketing plan?

It is a very critical element for us and I’m assuming it is the same for most auto companies. It’s the first method of introduction when the customer reaches out to the auto dealership. However, we need to reach out to consumer needs and wants and small BTL activities also include reaching out to consumers rather than wait for them to come to our showrooms.


Can you give a broad idea of your spends pie of ATL v/s BTL?

In other industries, BTL is in the range of 12-15% of ATL budget, but in the automotive space, it is almost 1:1.


Apart from the routine display and engagement activities, in what way do you innovate with below-the-line advertising and promotion?

We have something called open floats campaign, where we put the car on a flatbed in the back of the van and we take it physically to markets where we are not present. We do these displays within a distance of 40-50 kms from our showrooms, because when people from these small towns purchase our products and if they need servicing, they are not ready to travel much. We also do a lot of associations with events happening at a local level. Almost 80% of the money is spent through print work for dealership advertising.


In terms of generating results, esp from consumers and in B2B, do you find BTL a more sureshot avenue than ATL?

BTL campaigns are always result-oriented. They have a clear mandate. Corporate brand campaigns have multiple tasks like driving imagery, brand awareness, etc. BTL would form a subset of the ATL objectives.


While sales and salience are good indicators of its success, what are the attributes you look at to measure the success of a BTL campaign?

For BTL campaigns, enquiries generated are the attributes. This campaign is evaluated with the overall leads and enquires we’ve got on a day-to-day basis. Test drives will definitely help in branding as well. One thing that differentiates BTL between the automotible and FMCG space is that in the automotive space, almost 85% of the BTL money is spent in the organised sector. This is generally used to communicate offers. When I say that I spend 1:1 on ATL and BTL, this also takes into account advertisements in supplements of newspapers, etc.. Communication of offers is also considered to be BTL.


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?

I don’t see BTL managing without ATL. During a launch of a new product or service, the primary task is mass awareness of the new product. This is not possible only through BTL. During a launch I like to keep everything close to my control. It is what we call Corporate ATL Activities. If today one looks at advertising on TV, in print media or even in a magazine, I don’t think anyone can look at only BTL. The market is getting ferocious.


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