BTL Baatein:Sumeet Narang,Bajaj Auto Powered by VISCOMM

07 May,2015

For a product like a motorcycle, it’s got to be more than just advertising above-the-line that can do full justice to a brand. But sometimes it’s also a combination of BTL or on-the-ground activity with ATL or digital specifically, as Bajaj Auto did recently. And, as Sumeet Narang, Senior Vice-President (Marketing – Motorycles) at Bajaj Auto says what drives customers a lot more to showrooms is the above-the-line investments.


We’ve seen the webisodes for Discover and this is possibly the first time a product in this sector has embraced the digital medium in a big way. Huge step forward?

The bigger move is not the screen through which we’re broadcasting but the content. Whether it’s cinema, TV, mobile or laptop; whether it’s through the internet or a place where you buy a ticket, it’s just a medium.


The spends on this campaign are probably as much as for a TVC, but the reach is not as much. Do you think it’s effective enough, in terms of RoI?

First, if you don’t lean forward and experiment, you’ll always stay in the safe zone. We clearly explored the upside and downsides [before embarking on the campaign]. The ZingZong ride campaign was launched on Feb 8, but before that, we conducted a 13-city survey on relationships and how people about them and about marriage and such. And we saw we were on the right track with our findings. Another thing that came out strongly in the survey was that people found a long drive on a bike to be the most romantic way of spending time together, and they rated it higher than a candlelit dinner, a movie together or just hanging out at home. This was a corroboration of our findings, and the way we’re building this brand. We decided that we needed to take this campaign into people’s lives. If this brand stands for re-igniting romance, what’s the biggest symbol of that? The heart, of course, and that’s how ZingZong was launched – strategically -on World Marriage Day. It was launched with press articles, TV ads over three days and advertorials across all leading print papers. We also invited couples to drive around the country and bring the ZingZong back in their lives. That announcement is, in itself, an endorsement by the brand of what it believes in. It was a pretty high-reach campaign when we launched it. We used mass media. I think if you mix media, you can get a good balance of reach as well as engagement.


It’s still early days but how has the campaign worked for you? It really seems to have struck a chord…

Considering we got upwards of 8,000 entries from couples wanting to take part and willing to share their stories.


In terms of sales?

It’s a brand activity. It’s difficult to isolate aspects and say I see a blip here or there. It’s a part of the whole process we’re rolling out in, in terms of repositioning Discover as a brand. I don’t think I can isolate any one activity. It’s still early days.


Apart from digital and television, has the ad been on other media as well?

TV and print are the dominant media. We’ve also used digital. There’s an interesting on-ground property that we’ve built where a couple can visit a showroom and get a 60- second film made of themselves. It’s called a ZingZong World Tour. We’ve had to be careful with digital, though. This isn’t like a youth brand; . In a certain way, there is a bit of a convergence on the way the role digital’s got to play in the life of Discover. It’s a more mass brand and for that way, everybody is wanting Digital to evolve as a medium. From being a youth brand consumed more out of desktops and laptops and high-end smartphones, we all know there ae actually 250 million internet users, dish has also to got a lot more mass and wider. It’s a challenge for the brand and as much for the digital industry.


The spends are huge for digital and you’re happy to experiment.

We’re pretty mindful of what we spend across media. So we feel a small proportion of our spends could be put into something experimental. It may or may not work, but it definitely leaves us a lot wiser.


In terms of your sales, this is the beginning of the festive season, the key season…

This is a big season for us in the north, particularly during what we call the wedding season. So you do see an increase when the festive season comes on, starting with Navratras, that’s the next big season. The webisodes and all will not necessarily culminate in that. They’re not being timed toward the October festival season per se, but I would say it comes in now. We launched a new campaign in January. So, across what is quarter four for us, we’re focused on our above-the-line campaign and some time in February, we launched ZingZong Ride.


How much of your spends are either above the line or below?

It’s a much smaller amount that goes below the line where it varies from industry to industry. We have dedicated dealers with showrooms, but that’s part of our infrastructure. Whereas for an FMCG, every poster put up at a retail shop would constitute a below-the-line investment. For us, that’s really the infrastructure. It’s a difficult thing to compare. Below the line plays a role. The infrastructure is there and it’s already gone in the infrastructure and continues to do so. We find what drives customers a lot more to showrooms is the above-the-line investments.


And there’s still some time before you get into some e-commerce sales, which hasn’t really entered the automobile sector in a big way….

In case of two wheelers, I don’t think you can do away with the kind of experience and assistance and expert advice that a customer requires at a point of sale, which is [acquired from] the dealership. It’s not like browsing through features online and then ordering the bike online too. I can’t say how things will be in future. Currently, we’re very focused on our current methods.


And one last question: What are the challenges that lie ahead for you in terms of marketing, advertising and promotion of motorcycles?

At the industry level, we’ve been seeing a slowdown in the last six months. So one big challenge is going to be to accelerate the re-purchase cycle at an industry level. Our commuter segment, where Discover is operating, has lost some market share. We have to get that back. Our third challenge has to do with new launches. I think we need to consolidate them in the market. We’re talking about quite a few of them, like Platina or CT100. We have to continue building the credibility of these brands and make them look very different and exciting. Similarly, with the new Pulsar that we’ve launched, the advertising and marketing challenge is going to be to up the brand imagery and sheen. These are top-of-the-line bikes and our challenge would be to come up with marketing which complements them.


And one last question: What are the challenges that lie ahead for you in terms of marketing, advertising and promotion of motorcycles?

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