BTL Baatein with Abraham Alapatt, Thomas Cook… Powered by VISCOMM

03 Feb,2017

A postgraduate in business administration from SCMS School of Business, Kerala, Abraham Alapatt has  over 20 years of professional experience at senior strategic levels from working with brands like Goldwire Communications, Ogilvy & Mather, Reliance Capital, Development Credit Bank and Future Generali India Life Insurance Company before joining Thomas Cook in October 2012. Alapatt is currently the Chief Innovation Officer and Head – Marketing & Service Quality at Thomas Cook India Ltd. We present to you the ‘BTL Baatein’ of the week which is powered by VISCOMM with Santosh Jangid speaking to Abraham Alapatt about Below The Line (BTL) advertising, the focus of the company in terms of the type of promotions and the balance between ATL (Above The Line) and BTL.


How important is BTL to your overall marketing plan?

Yes, BTL is absolutely necessary for the brand to engage with the audience on ground. Apart from that it is one of the best ways to generate good quality leads (prospective customer) for active selling of the products and give a first-hand experience of the product. While ATL works well to create awareness and generate interest about the product / brand, if ably supported on ground with activations it helps ensure direct and last mile connect with the TG.


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

We activate events across various customer touch-points on grounds comprising travel expositions, apartment and residential societies, corporate parks and companies, schools, malls and city centers among others.


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

Currently, around 80% of our spendings is skewed towards ATL with BTL being around 20%


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

We use a hybrid model. If the task involves a large scale activation, we do consider an agency to execute it for us, but most times, our local sales teams execute it themselves on the ground in their respective locations.


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

In the B2B space, direct engagement with the customer has always worked well for us. However, at times, it is supported with ATL communication in B2B media vehicles such as trade publications in order to build awareness for the brand.


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? 

The number of footfalls (engagement with the brand / product) and queries generated during a particular activity/event is the primary measure of success for a BTL activity.


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?

The moment you supplement BTL with Outdoor and Digital blitz for any new product launch, it ceases to become a BTL-only launch. But it is a smart way to keep costs low and still manage to create some sort of an impact without spending millions of dollars on a mass media campaign. The only shortcoming of a pure BTL product launch could be scalability, because we can only reach out to a small set of people in the vicinity where the event / activation is being carried out. Hence there are limitations to BTL if you intend for a higher impact with a pan-India product launch.


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