BTL Baatein: Samar Singh Sheikhawat, United Breweries Ltd… Powered by VISCOMM

16 Sep,2016

A veteran in building brands, Samar Singh Sheikhawat joined United Breweries Limited, as Senior Vice President – Marketing in November 2009. A post graduate in MBA – Marketing and Finance from Symbiosis, Pune, Sheikhawatstarted his career with Cadbury’s India Ltd in 1989. He is currently theSenior Vice President – Marketing of United Breweries Limited. 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 to your overall marketing plan?

It is extremely important. We function in a media dark environment. So, historically, the BTL part of our business has been an extremely important part, whether it is at Point of Sale or Point of Consumption, or whether it is displays, shop frontage, all consumer activations and promotions, sponsorships, events, associations etc. are very critical to our business.

 

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

We do everything under the sun from sponsorship to promotions to road shows to events- music, sports, food festivals, fashion gigs, display in stores, posters, danglers, streamers, digital intervention, activations on ground. I mean everything that is possible to be done is literally done in the alcohol business because you technically are not allowed to advertise. Things have changed a lot in the last few years but so far it was that way.

 

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

It typically would be 60% of our total spends will be ATL now and about 40% is BTL. BTL, there is a lower percentage in other consumer product companies.

 

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

We use both. We use agency that specialises in BTL work and we use our ATL agencies also. But largely it is working with agency that specialises in BTL work. A lot of BTL is also executed by our own sales teams but at the end of the day we end up using agency that specialises in this business.

 

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

I do not think you can compare the two. It is like cricket, you need both batsmen and bowlers. You cannot have a team of 11 batsmen or 11 bowlers. So, they need to work in conjunction with each other. First of all, you need to have distribution of the brands, you have to have cold stock available, you have to be visible etc. So, those three basic things have to happen. Thereafter, you need ATL to bring consumer pull in to the stores and you need BTL to give them an added incentive once they are there. Sometimes BTL can also play the role of ATL, if it’s associational and desirable property. The two play a complimentary role to each other.

 

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?

Depending on the campaign there are several ways of looking at it. Whether it is number of consumer contacts, strike rates or conversions, then you look at how that outlet or that brand or that market how it is doing during the BTL activation period and how it does after the activation period. So, typically if it is executed well, it will do well during the BTL period but we also hope that after the activity is over, it settles at a level higher than the level at which you started. Otherwise, it is not a permanent change.

 

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?

Most companies across the world, actually, cannot afford ATL costs. You look at smaller businesses SMEs, startup businesses, local businesses etc. most of them do what traditionally is known as BTL. The number of organisations and brands that are sold only on BTL anywhere in the world is always larger than the number of brands that actually get on to ATL. So, if I run a neighbourhood grocery delivery business, how will I make sure that people know about me? May be in every bill I will have rubber stamp with my phone number, may be I would give a leaflet with every delivery bag that goes. So, the number of people who use BTL in our country is- I am not talking about volume of business and the amount of money that is spent, obviously a far more popular way of communicating to consumers than ATL. ATL requires certain size, a certain funding and also it requires a certain economic threshold to be effective. If I have one crore for instance, it will be suboptimal to put it up to television. Whereas, one crore on BTL could make a big difference depending on what I want to achieve.

 

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