The recent months have seen print media getting more attention from the automobile industry, not only in terms of higher investment but innovative approach as well. Volkswagen could be said to have started off the trend. Mahindra & Mahindra soon followed suit with a roadblock in The Times of India.
As per TAM AdEx data, in 2010, there was massive jump of 104 per cent in investment in print from the four-wheeler industry. Clearly, the auto industry not only invested in traditional ads, but a huge chunk of their budget was also spent in innovative cut-out exercises, roadblocks, 3D advertisements et al in the print medium.
A quick look at this trend reveals that in 2009, print advertising of the automobile sector increased by 7 per cent as compared to 2008. On the other hand, print ad volumes of the automobile sector had declined by 13 per cent during 2008 as compared to 2007.
According to industry experts, over the last two years, media investments by the auto category have been growing by 60-70 per cent year-on-year.
But, what has prompted the auto sector to increase its marketing budget for print media?
An ‘Auto’ Focus
With the entry of several international automobile brands in India, and growing purchasing power of the consumers, there is increase focus and close competition in this sector. Stress is on creating bigger and bigger buzz around the new launches using all media tools. Vivek Nayar, Senior VP, Mahindra & Mahindra, felt that because of so many new launches, the attention of automobile advertisers had shifted towards print.
Nayar further explained, “In TV ads, we have just a few seconds to show our product. This is not the case with print, where a consumer can spend as much time as he wants and advertisers can give as many details as they want. So, for new launches, print is helpful for us.”
Meanwhile, media experts also believe that print helps in triggering the buying momentum, and no advertiser wants to miss out on this. Anindya Ray, GM, Lodestar UM, the agency for auto giants Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors, remarked, “Cutthroat competition, an unprecedented sales slowdown in the last couple of months, as compared to the high of 2010, triggered by a combination of higher borrowing rate and burning fuel cost have made life very tough for the car companies. Hence, by using print, auto brands keep the momentum on.”
However, TV still remains the preferred medium for the automobile industry, even as the industry has changed its approach towards print and moved on from plain vanilla advertising to path-breaking innovations.
Almost a year back, MediaCom, along with The Times of India, had done an innovative advertisement for its client Volkswagen. Ashwini Kamat, GM, MediaCom, said, “The role of these innovations was to generate awareness for Volkswagen, and given the fact that Volkswagen has been voted as India’s 4th buzziest brand, we believe that we have got good returns on investment.”
However, Nayar of Mahindra & Mahindra is a little cautious with innovations in print media. He believed that in theoretically terms, innovations did give better ROIs. “But we need to be very cautious with innovations as these can become biggest irritants for readers/ consumers,” he cautioned.
For publishers, it seems to be a win-win situation. These innovative ads not only give them better revenues, but their publications also get greater attention. Jwalant Swaroop, COO, Lokmat Media Ltd, stated, “We are open to innovations, provided there is no any additional cost involved in it. We have been doing layout innovations and recently we have done a 3D ad of Honda City.”
Kamat of MediaCom pointed out, “In the first quarter of 2011, ad investments of auto sector in TV grew by 100 per cent and in print by 55 per cent, as opposed to TV growth of 70 per cent and print growth of 42 per cent in January-December 2010.”
However, which medium to be used for advertising is also defined by the advertisers’ objective. Mahindra’s Nayar divulged that they used print whenever there were new launches or special announcements that they wanted to make for their brands. At Mahindra & Mahindra, because of frequent launches of new products in the last 12 to 18 months, the percentage of marketing budget has gone up for the print medium.
As experts summarised it – for any brand, breakthrough innovation in connection with brand positioning was a must to create first impression. And to stand tall amongst the crowd in the long run, innovation is necessary, irrespective of the medium.