BTL Baatein: Sarthak Seth, Panasonic India… Powered by VISCOMM

29 Jul,2016

With over 14 years of experience, Sarthak Seth specialises in brand strategy, creation and developing markets, consumer insights, visibility strategies and has been instrumental in conceiving, designing and implementing product and marketing initiatives for global brands such as Panasonic, LG Electronics, Indian Hotels Co Ltd in India and South Asian markets. Currently, he is the Head for Brand and Marketing Communications at Panasonic India Pvt. Ltd.We present to you the ‘BTL Baatein’ of the week which is powered by VISCOMM with Anuka Roy speaking to him Below The Line (BTL) advertising, the focus of the company and the balance between ATL (Above The Line) and BTL


How important is BTL activity to your overall marketing plan?

BTL is extremely important and today everybody wants to demonstrate more in to experiential marketing thing. It plays a really important role because if you want to connect with the consumer, who actually wants to have a touch and feel of the product.


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

From a BTL perspective there are two-three things. One is, within the shop what exactly are you doing. So, if you see how the consumer journey today is, we start the journey from ATL which includes the release of your television campaign, it is more from the perspective of creating awareness. Now, a consumer might see you on television or newspaper and come in to the shop. But what message has been delivered to him is very important. From the perspective of what you see at the shop, all your POPs (point of purchase), POSs (point of sale), cut outs etc. So, we normally do all such things. Then another thing is in the zone of activations. Now the activations also fall in to the BTL activity itself. When you speak from activation per say, it is more about the experiential feel of the product to the consumer, so that you create various touch points where the consumer actually comes in and touches and feels your product. We do a lot of activations around mall. Today it is more about how you reach out to the end consumer. It is just that wherever you have consumer footprint, you just reach out to the consumer.


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

It totally depends on the product category. It is more to do with what are the numbers that you are looking at or what is your revenue for a certain category because if you really want to do your television commercials and everything, which is more of ATL then obviously it is like you really have to have a decent turnover because you generate your marketing budgets from that perspective. There might be smaller categories where you will see only 100% BTL has been done. So, it totally depends upon the product category you are talking about. Also, another thing is that if I look at broader prospect, I would say if a brand is in a decent stage in terms of awareness and everything, then the brands tend to shift towards BTL.


Do you prefer to do this through BTL agencies directly or via your existing creative/media agency?

BTL is a specialised thing… your advertising agencies are not specialised in terms of activations. But when you say creative, the creative in terms of what POPs have to be designed or what sort of creative that should be made by your creative agencies but in terms of putting it over, implementing it in the shop floor, executing it-all these are done through BTL agencies.


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

Today in marketing everything is about numbers. So, you need to look at ROI (Return on Investment). ATL is more about building your awareness because on ATL we normally do not do much of tactical. Especially in television there is barely anything tactical which is done. The second tactical mode I would say is print ads, wherein you release your offers and all. But again in BTL front if your there with the end consumer and at the mall you are offering certain things, so you know how faster the conversions are happening.


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?

One of the things is the footfalls you have been able to generate, when you look from a BTL perspective. Here it is more of the activations that you are actually speaking. The number of people it is touching upon is number one. Another is how much conversions you are driving from there because from BTL perspective I would say that we are more in to being practical so we cannot just say with BTL we are trying to create awareness. Awareness can be a subset but at the end of the day it is more about can I have something which is more result oriented or result driven things.


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?

You just cannot do away with the ATL. But it totally depends on the product category you are dealing with. Marketing is always a function of what your budget has been generated. So, it has to be a mix of ATL and BTL. But again when you are doing an ATL campaign, you need to know that it has to be a sustained enough campaign. So, it cannot be that today I release an ad on television and tomorrow I am out of it, it just cannot happen. Every medium has its own role to play in to it. Like television is more about building awareness, position of the brand and print is more from a tactical perspective and also about what offers you are actually giving. BTL is reaching out to the end consumers in terms of identifying that these are my niche consumers, it is like you are directly reaching to the potential customers over there. ATL is more like you are reaching to the masses. Today when we are talking about geo targeting, digital media for example, even those sorts of geo targeting you are doing through BTL.


Coming on to brands doing a mix of BTL along with outdoors and digital, I would say it is a good mix. If you see outdoors will help you in creating awareness and increasing your visibility. Again, in outdoors you should know that any campaign which you are stretching beyond a period 21 to 25 days, actually the creative becomes a blind spot. So, if you are changing your creative, you can stretch it to two-three months also. Rising cost of media on one side, we are looking at it from the perspective of television or newspaper for that matter but their effectiveness is much broader. Outdoor, you need to be city and area specific. Digital is not at all a cheap medium. A lot of people make this assumption that digital is very cheap. The number of impressions you are required to put on to digital medium in terms of gaining frequencies, it is not very simple. It can be a decent mix but have to know where you want to target.


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