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Pratik Mazumder

Head of Marketing & Strategic Alliance | 02 May 2012

With broadband penetration crossing a hundred million, there are early adopters of the online travel category. With our new campaign we are trying to get a larger mindshare and want to become a dominant online travel agency brand in the consumer space.

Pratik Mazumder, Head of Marketing and Strategic Alliance, Yatra has more than 18 years of experience in marketing with special emphasis on brand and product management, marketing communications including advertising, celebrity management, events, sales, direct messaging, content resource management, public relations, outdoor, research, retail merchandising, trade engagement and consumer brand experience.

He has wide experience in the services sector including telecom, travel and tourism, financial services and real estate. He possesses a deep understanding of the e-commerce business.

His forte has been in areas of strategic brand planning and brand architecture mapping, consumer segmentation, relationship marketing, and consumer brand experience. Prior to joining Yatra, Mazumder has been associated with prominent brands such as Bharti Airtel and OgilvyOne Worldwide.

For Mazumder, the task ahead at Yatra is to create a distinct identity for the brand keeping in mind its ideology of happy travelers.

Here are excerpts from Dipali Banka’s conversation with him:

Q. What are the challenges you are trying to address with your recent campaign with Salman Khan?

The fact we are trying to establish is that right now, with broadband penetration crossing a hundred million, there are early adopters of the online travel category. We are trying to get a larger mindshare and want to become a dominant online travel agency (OTA) brand in the consumer space. We have used this campaign to try increase top of mind recall and saliency for the brand.

This is a highly fragmented market in which the top four to five brands in the holiday section of the business control less than 10 per cent marketshare. So, it is primarily an unorganised retail trade. We want to become the number one brand that customers think of when booking a domestic or an international flight ticket. We signed on Salman Khan because he is the only celebrity who cuts across both masses and the classes, in metros as well as in tier I and tier II towns.

Q. Are you saying that because Salman Khan has bought a stake in Yatra?

The relationship with Salman Khan is multilevel. There are three dimensions to it. One dimension is that he has come on board as a shareholder of Yatra. The second is that he is going to be the brand ambassador, spokesperson and the face of Yatra. In a sense, he epitomises ‘Mr. Yatra’. He is the guy who goes out getting the best deals and will do anything for his customers. Thirdly, we’ve associated with his charitable trust, ‘Being Human Foundation’. For every ticket or holiday that we sell, we will make a contribution to his foundation. That is going to be the cornerstone of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity.

Q. What is the total spend of the campaign? What kind of growth are you expecting?

We are undertaking a 360-degree marketing campaign. The campaign spend is around Rs 30 crore, a large share of which will be spent on television. Other than television, our media mix includes outdoor, print, radio and digital.

We are looking at doubling our business in the next two years.

Q. The campaign talks about meeting the commitment of one particular deal of providing 50 per cent off on an airline ticket. From a consumer’s point of view, it is a bit unrealistic. Through this campaign, are you trying to say that you are going to offer unrealistic deals at Yatra?

That is a creative exaggeration. That is like saying that someone picks up a cola and jumps off a mountain.

Q. Yes, but that creative exaggeration does not include numbers. Over here, people will come expecting 50 per cent off on every deal; and if they do not get it, they might be put off.

By the way, there are 50 per cent off on a few products on our website depending on sales, destinations, products and the inventory that we may have pre-bought. But if the residual message to the consumer is that Yatra provides the best deals, at least the consumer will check our deals before making a travel decision. And if that happens, the campaign would have done justice.

Q. McCann Erickson, Delhi is the creative agency for this campaign. But in 2010 your agency was TBWA, in 2009 it was Rediffusion DY&R, in 2007 it was Leo Burnett and in 2006 it was Everest Brand Solutions. There have been five different creative agencies in the last six years. What led to so many agency changes?

I cannot comment about what happened before late 2009 as I came in around that time. Back then, we had Rediffusion on board. We moved to TBWA through a competitive pitch. But I think it would have been more to do with the lack of meeting of minds and the juncture at which the brand was. About 2006-07…we had just started and had decided to trust a particular agency. As it didn’t deliver, we had to take steps. When you have business requirements to grow exponentially and if there isn’t meeting of minds, then it is better to part ways. In 2008-09, there was huge recession and the travel industry went through a bad time. So it would have been the financials that didn’t work out.

Right now, TBWA has been brought on to help us plan the creative strategy, the brand positioning and growth for the next few years.

There are agencies that have nurtured brands and helped them grow over a period of 10-15 years. This is an ideal situation but sometimes agency relations are all people-dependent and if there isn’t a meeting of minds, then it is better to part ways.

Q. On the media side too, you had Motivator some time back. And now it is ZenithOptimedia. Please comment.

Yes, Motivator was the agency for three odd years. The reasons for this change would also be similar. We are growing exponentially and over the last few years, our media investments have quadrupled. Motivator was a very small agency. When we did the pitch process, we did look at Maxus, another GroupM agency, Madison and Lodestar. We found that Zenith’s understanding and its completely RoI-driven model was suitable.

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