How Zomato stole the limelight with its Rs 1,214 crore advertising blitz

The brand has maintained top-of-mind recall in the food delivery category with its humorous ads across television, print and digital in the last year

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Jan 27, 2020 3:39 PM



To gain top-of-mind recall in the food delivery category, brands need to continuously ride the buzz, something that Zomato seems to have cracked over time. It has been making headlines ever since it acquired Uber Eats, the food delivery business of ride-sharing giant Uber, on January 21, 2020. Interestingly, the brand’s expenses on advertising and promotions soared to Rs 1214 crore in FY19, a 15-fold increase in spends when compared to the previous year. Moreover, in its annual filings statement, the company contended that all the marketing investment made by Zomato in FY19 have helped them with customer acquisition and will bear rich dividends even in FY20. 

 Zomato registered a 3X revenue growth in FY19 at $206 million while its costs stood at $500 million. “We have had tremendous growth aided by promotional marketing spends to acquire new users and be the first-to-market in many cities in India. In our experience, being first-to-market gives us a distinct competitive advantage in the food delivery sector. Food delivery in India is creating an entirely new market; 70% of our regular users in Kolhapur had never tried food delivery in their life (even over a phone call), and Zomato was the first food delivery experience of their lives. All the marketing investment we made in FY19 will bear fruit in FY20 and beyond — when we realise the LTV (Lifetime Value) of the users that we have acquired,” the company’s statement said.

Things have been getting more interesting in the delivery universe with Zomato’s feisty and savage advertising. In 2019, the brand launched their big TV campaign for the ‘On-Time or Free’ feature, based on the theme ‘Kabhi to late ho jaata’.

 The ad shows users who opted for ‘On-Time or Free’ with a hope that Zomato will be late, only to be disappointed when it comes right on time. The ‘Thoda sa late ho jaata’ song on the background depicts the emotions of users frustrated to receive their order on time, every time. The company also roped in Vijay Deverakonda to represent the campaign in the Southern markets.

 The brand has also leveraged social media marketing and moment marketing very well.

One recent example is when the brand took to micro-blogging platform Twitter to talk about the much-discussed iPhone 11 Pro and its triple-camera system.

 Zomato tweeted a picture of three cups of tea, strategically placed to mimic the three-camera design of the newly launched phone. The ad copy also took a jibe at the phone’s exorbitant price tag with the tag line “For less than ₹199.”

The online ad became a testimony to Zomato’s moment marketing skills, which the brand has come to ace over the years.

Another prime example of Zomato’s creativity was when the brand decided to have a little fun on social media, asking its users to consider eating home-cooked food. To everyone's surprise, big brands like YouTube India, Amazon Prime, Ixigo, TVF, among others joined the thread, and each tried to have the last word. Quoting the tweet, these brands tweeted suggestions to their followers that were completely opposite to what their services stand for.

After these tweets, the food-ordering app trolled these brands, asking them to be innovative with their tweets. Zomato India's initial tweet was liked by over 19,000 users and re-tweeted nearly 4,000 times.

As if leveraging digital for moment-marketing wasn’t enough, another blockbuster marketing initiative was Zomato’s quirky ads embedded in the matrimonial section of mainstream newspapers. “Well settled, smart and loving brand looking for those who can’t cook”. Or would you prefer a “6’ handsome, wheatish, Italian-origin, good-looking, loving and cheesy pizza,” read the hilarious copy.

Moreover, the company also runs Search Ad Campaign using Google Adwords. It targets keywords related to food, ordering online, names of restaurants and much more and also targets users whose intent is to get some food delivered to them. The platform has delivered some savage advertising hits across television, digital and print over the last one year. As the brand now takes over Uber Eats, it will be interesting to watch out for the advertising antics they come up with in their journey of further strengthening the brand.


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