“Facebook didn’t exist, Twitter was a sound, the Cloud was in the sky, 4G was a parking place, LinkedIn was a prison, Applications were what you sent to college and Skype for most people was a typo. All of that changed in just the last six years” – Thomas Friedman
The galloping growth of internet and the meteoric rise in the number of its users are reshaping the marketing landscape of the country, with digital gaining a strong foothold in the marketing plan. The internet has not only empowered users, but also helped marketers to establish deeper and more personalised connect with audiences. Campaigns launched on digital give the brand an instant feedback and the opportunity to tweak things prior to heavier investments on other channels.
But it is interesting to note that marketers have started opting for a perfect blend of digital media with other monologue mediums to get instant insights on consumer sentiments and act more effectively by targeting the right audiences. Some of the communication combos are Print-Digital, Radio-Digital, TV-Digital and Activation-Digital. It is often said that “Choice of a right direction leads to a romantic ending”, but the important question is which is the most effective channel to drive engagement around the brand?
Raj Sarkar, Vice-President, Marketing, Ford India said, “We utilise all the combinations available, depending on the audience that we are targeting. If we are doing a broad launch, then we opt for Print-Digital and TV-Digital. But if we are doing something more targeted, then we use only digital or sometimes a combination of Print-Digital. Activation also plays an important role in our marketing mix, but we generally use activation independently. There are different kinds of combinations that can be used to suit the needs of people.”
Kit Kat, the chocolate brand from Nestle, came up with an innovation across several editions of The Times of India to draw attention of the users to its recent tie-up with Google’s Android. The innovation showcased that Android has become Android KitKat after eating the chocolate, Kit Kat. The chocolate brand, Kit Kat, came up with a print ad, which when scanned through an Alive App or a Pointart App, took the reader to a video that showed Android walking and taking bites of Kit Kat and then transforming itself into the Android KitKat. The basic idea was to drive awareness about the digital campaign through a perfect mix of print and digital.
Sachin Kumar, Senior Business Director, Maxus Interaction remarked, “TV, print and radio were all monologue media vehicles to communicate marketing messages to audiences till internet happened and converted users into Netizens. The interesting thing today is how marketers are connecting digital media vehicles to monologue mediums in order to be effective and efficient with their communication. In my view, it completely depends on the objective of the campaign. Print/ Radio with Digital is used to build immediacy. Shoppers Stop is consistently using this combination of social with print to drive awareness for sale/ promotions. Volkswagen created buzz for its Jetta car by promoting the #anything4jetta by using the front page of The Times of India. Over the first three days, the campaign recorded 54,000 tweets.”
According to Kumar, TV with digital is primarily used when the core marketing objective is to drive familiarity. Streaming a TVC on digital while the TVC is on air can be an example. Pepsodent runs pre-roll on video network early morning to drive the familiarity with contextual timing. To drive the familiarity for Coke Studio, the content was released on mobile in hangout zones such as cafés, movie theaters, fast food joints with the help of Blu-fi technology. The content was further promoted through YouTube channel and website.
Heineken provided its customers with a different beer buying experience by incepting a ‘voice in their head’ urging them to grab the bespoke green coloured embossed bottle of Heineken. The brand executed it by using directional speakers for the purpose, which emits a high frequency beam of sound at the subjects – becoming a voice in their head, a voice that no one else could hear. Since it was a focused beam of sound, only the subject could hear it. The speakers were camouflaged with the surroundings and left the user in focus wondering where the sound was coming from. This was a unique idea that engaged customers through the combination of digital and activation.
Kumar explained, “A combination of activation and digital is important when the agenda is to drive earned media. In order to wish Merry Christmas to passengers, West Jet airlines surprised people by giving them surprise Christmas gifts when people were waiting to pick up luggage from the conveyor belt. This video got 35 million views. In my view, there is not a single combo that is best, but the selection is completely dependent on objective of the campaign.”
The choice of a particular platform also depends on the audience segment to be targeted and the scale of a campaign launch. According to Bhaskar Sharma, General Manager, Red Bull India, consumers will only watch what they believe in. “For some reason, paid media is losing that touch of being credible. On the other hand, the credibility aspect of digital or something that is non-paid is very high. Whatever is credible is going to win and rest everything is just the format. I think it is more about paid versus non-paid rather than the vehicle. TV still reaches out to a large number of people, so a combination of TV and digital is also very effective. Activation has started gaining an upper edge in the marketing mix. In case of a car launch, a combination of activation and digital is perhaps the best mix,” Sharma said. However, he believes that content will always be supreme, while the medium is secondary.
There cannot be a perfect answer as to which combination will work best, because it entirely depends on the objective of the brand. There is a need to create the best communication mix with the right media strategies to be able to address the changing needs of the people. Mass media such as print and TV are still the most effective and sought-after ways for a brand to advertise, but brands are constantly re-inventing their marketing strategies to come up with the best combination of TV, print, radio or activation with digital to drive deeper engagements.