Points of View: Will BTL gain from the economic slowdown?

By Tarana Khan , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | December 17, 2008
With marketers cutting their ATL budgets, will this be a boom time for non-traditional media?


marketers cutting their ATL budgets, will this be a boom time for non-traditional media?

Atul Nath
Managing director, Candid Marketing

The slowdown is on our minds and what's on the mind has a profound impact on everyday action. Customers are reacting to sentiments and there is an overall sense of "hold is gold". It is important to influence buyers at the time when they are taking the plunge, either by impacting their experience or enhancing it.

This could lead to them succumbing to temptation, greed or simply switching to another brand. As a BTL (below-the-line) evangelist, I have seen that activation can achieve what mass media can't. During this economic slowdown, more brands are shifting to activation. The growth of activation has been given an almighty heave. Where the industry was already growing in credibility and delivery, the economic slowdown is going to prove to be a major turning point.

Naresh Gupta
Executive vice-president, planning, Publicis India

This entire argument about "line" is a dated concept. Its origin lies in Excel sheets and not in how a consumer engages with brands. The origin also probably lies in marketers' and advertisers' desire to "control" how the consumer thinks.

The entire mind and hearts theory for ATL (above-the-line) and hands and feet theory for BTL is driven by the belief that consumers are morons and they will do what we tell them to do. From the consumers' perspective, nothing is as far removed from reality. They have a mind of their own. They do what looks like the thing to do on that day.

Success lies in not thinking ATL vs BTL, but in making consumers like a product and passing on your message. It lies in making consumers co-create with the brands. BTL is growing, not because of the economic slowdown, but because consumers are taking control. The new reality will be shaped by this shift. Consumers will control conversations and this will mean greater focus on meaningful engagement. It doesn't matter where the line is.

Amit Gupta
Director, marketing and communication, ING Vysya Life

In a budget optimisation scenario, targeted marketing is important and, hence, BTL initiatives are an excellent form of targeted marketing. Across the Indian insurance industry, players have tried various BTL activities with varied degrees of success. These have been used with primary objectives: to push the sale of products by generating business leads and for recruiting advisors or feet on the street.

At ING Life, we have successfully implemented pioneering BTL campaigns across the country, which have given us huge successes. In each of these activities, we have been successful in generating business leads. These have also helped in building our brand awareness. As the industry gets competitive, more and more players are likely to try BTL initiatives.

Anita Nayyar
Chief executive officer, Havas Media India

To get better bang for the buck is an age-old phenomenon that everyone chases and that has not slowed down. However, the options for achieving that bang have changed.

If brands can't afford a mass media campaign, the obvious option is to move to more efficient and more effective media. BTL may give lower inputs vis--vis other mass media, but its advantage is the lower cost per contact. Not only is consumer contact assured, the numbers controlled and the communication customised, but the interaction and demonstration possibilities are tremendous.

The BTL offering, whether it is in the form of an event, road show or activation, is known to be one of the most effective ways of consumer contact, provided there are brand synergies in the choice of the event. The economic slowdown will, for sure, ensure a boost for BTL activities as the outlays will be smaller and not hurt the purse as much. There is a big hole in the purse anyway.

© 2008 afaqs!