BTL Baatein: Nitesh Chhapru, United Spirits India… Powered by VISCOMM

30 Dec,2016

With 16 years of experience spanning across commercial, brand marketing, category management and new product development, Nitesh Chhapru joined Diageo in 2006 and was responsible for brand marketing on the Johnnie Walker portfolio.  In 2010, he moved to the Diageo South East Asia business in his innovation role, managing markets like Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines, where he led the creation of the Ready-To-Drink Innovation pipeline and turnaround of Smirnoff ICE.  Nitesh Chhapru is the Head of Marketing for the luxury and premium core portfolio of United Spirits (USL), a Diageo group company. We present to you the ‘BTL Baatein’ of the week which is powered by VISCOMM with Santosh Jangid speaking to Nitesh Chhapru about Below The Line (BTL) advertising for Distilled Spirits, challenges, government regulations and the balance between ATL (Above The Line) and BTL.


How important is BTL to your overall marketing plan?

Point of purchase and BTL are the key marketing drivers for United Spirits both on trade and off trade as it helps to maximise visibility.


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

The two major channels explored for various BTL activities are On trade and Off Trade. Under On trade various outlets, keys accounts are targeted, where the brand extends price and product discounts, merchandise and various offers to the consumers. The brand also partners with these outlets exclusively organising a brand specific event at the venue. One such activity is “Art of Blending”. An interactive tasting session between the guests as the Diageo brand ambassador takes his guests through the journey of blending various scotch, whiskeys. Under off trade various price and product discounts are given to consumers at the retail outlets specially during the festive season.


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

Our spends are equally divided between ATL and BTL.


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

In the designing of a campaign, multiple agencies are involved and we use the expertise of both BTL and the existing creative/media agency we have on board.


Since there are various rules and regulations attached with promotion or displaying alcohol publicly in India, how challenging is it to advertise and market spirits in public spaces since alcoholic brands are only allowed to advertise and market in pubs and clubs?

As mentioned earlier, due to government regulations, we majorly explore the BTL route. The brand believes in responsible advertising and ensure that all rules and regulations set out by the government are complied with, thereby restricting all advertising and marketing activities to pubs and clubs.


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

As both these are two very different way of communication, we don’t have any research backing us to say that one is more effective or successful than the other. Especially the kind of communication that goes out through these channels in terms of alcohol is very varied and hence we can’t attribute that one is better than the 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?

Diageo follows an extremely robust M&E [Monitoring and Evaluation] mechanism for any activation that takes place. Depending on the scale of the campaign, M&E is designed, which differs from case to case. As globally the brand follows the next generation marketing principles we use tools like top line, market share, mind measures and spent awareness are taken into consideration to measure the success of a campaign. Apart from this we also track brand equity scores across all our brands, and the basic movement of these various measures in a campaign give us the success rate of the same.


There are many organisations that often do new launches almost entirely on BTL aided with an outdoor and/or digital blitz? Your views on this. Given rising media costs, do you see BTL managing on its own, without ATL?

We ensure that all our brand activations are undertaken in a holistic manner through all channels of communication ensuring that our message reaches all our consumers, not alienating BTL or ATL. We prefer communication through targeted traditional and digital media as opposed to broadcast media of ATL. Given the rising media costs we do see an increased spend towards BTL in comparison to ATL.


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