BTL Baatein with Sanjay Tripathy of HDFC Life

30 Apr,2015

Sanjay Tripathy

Senior EVP, Marketing, Product, Digital and E-commerce, HDFC Life on the role of below-the-line advertising and promotions in a marketing plan


Award-winning marketer, Sanjay Tripathy is Senior Executive Vice President, Head Marketing, Product, Digital and E-commerce at HDFC Life. A graduate in management from IRMA, Gujarat preceded by an engineering degree, Mr Tripathy has worked with GCMMF, Fritto-Lay, Mattel and Reliance Infocomm before joining HDFC Life in December 2004. In this interview with MxMIndia, Sanjay Tripathy speaks about how key are below-the-line promotional activity to a marketing plan…


How important is BTL activity to your overall marketing plan? And overall in the financial services sector?

BTL activities form an important part of our overall marketing plan. In context of the financial services industry, product understanding and trust are teething customer issues. BTL marketing becomes important because it provides the human interaction, which effectively solves problems related to understanding and trust. It also provides the desired experience to the customer which can affect the purchase decision process.


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

Depending on the objectives of the campaign, we allocate budgets for ATL and BTL activities. More important than the budget allocation, is to make sure that the ATL and BTL activities being executed are complementary and provide the complete brand experience, which we intend to provide to the customer. We don’t work on pre-decided spend patterns, rather adapting to the communication and engagement objectives of the campaign.


Can you also specify the range of activities that you undertake as part of the below-the-line advertising and promotion?

– They would be of two kinds:

i. Strategic:

a. Experiential modules at relevant sites (work site, malls etc.), to let them experience the campaign/product proposition. e.g “Director Of Happiness” for Smart Woman campaign and work site campaign for QROPS prospects

b. Contact programmes such as Spell Bee which we have done in the past, which help us engage with the right audience in the relevant life space


ii. Tactical:

Lead Generation modules run at channel partner locations, work sites etc. for product awareness and desired customer action, especially during the tax investment season


Do you prefer to do this through BTL agencies directly or via your existing creative/media agency?
– Different campaigns demand different skillsets. For campaigns which require smaller scale and faster turnaround, smaller agencies are our pick as they are more agile and can turn around work much faster. Whereas, for campaigns of a larger scale and higher complexity, larger agencies tend to do well. So, we use a mix of both, depending on our requirements.


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

BTL has its advantages, as it provides opportunities for:

i. Direct interaction with customers

ii. Immediate Query resolution and closure

So we use BTL activities as a part of the mix, where it fulfills our business objectives. ATL obviously has its part to play.


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?

With the increased social media usage, brands have the opportunity to amplify consumer experiences beyond the select few who are physically a part of it. Hence, another way of using great activation ideas is to put them up as a part of consumable content on social media. How well it does on social media, in terms of reach and engagement, is also a metric we use to look at the success of the initiative. In the past, we have done this with our Smart Woman’s “Director of Happiness” campaign and “HDFC Life Spell Bee” with great results.


There are many organisations that 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?

For a brand to scale up and reach out to people on a national level, ATL will remain important, as BTL can only reach out to a select few. And we are still some way off from seeing the kind of internet penetration that makes Digital interchangeable with ATL.


Hence, we look at creating and executing a strategy which optimises the strengths of each media rather than replace something completely.


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