Will a slump in the auto industry affect ad spends?

N Chandramouli, Tutu Dhawan and Harish Bijoor on the impact of declining sales in the auto industry and its effect on ad spends

e4m by Dolly Mahayan
Published: Jul 4, 2019 8:34 AM  | 5 min read

The automobile industry is facing a tough time since the last festive season. Automakers have always encashed the festive season, but now dark clouds are hovering over the industry. Domestic car sales in May declined to 26.03 percent over last year to 147,546 units.

According, to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, the domestic passenger vehicle sales declined 20.55 percent year-on-year to 239,347 units in May. That’s the steepest since September 2001 when passenger vehicle sales fell 21.91 percent, which is worst in 18 years. Even, deep discounts and offers by companies have failed to attract buyers to showrooms.

On the one hand the auto industry is struggling to increase sales, on the other, in the last few months there have been many new launches in the market. Hyundai Motors India, Tata Motors, Kia, MG Motors, and Maruti Suzuki have rolled out their new offerings in the market. With this kind of scenario prevailing in the sector, it’s high time for companies to rework on their marketing strategy to attract more buyers.

CEO, TRA Research, and brand expert, N Chandramouli says, “The concepts of car ownership and mobility are changing completely. The concept of cars has remained almost the same for the last few decades. And even if there were innovations, they were gradual and not dramatic. Until the tech of fast, aesthetic EVs became more popular with the success of Tesla. All car manufacturers will see a sea change in the next few years with EVs becoming more easily available with the FAME II regulations coming in and they should change their communication to mean more than beauty or just comfort.”

As the market is gearing up for the implementation of new emission (BS-VI) norms (the sixth stage of the Bharat Stage Emission norms, based on the European emission norms, which implement strict control over the emission from vehicles.) many companies have announced the removal of small diesel cars from their product’s portfolio.

Auto Expert, Tutu Dhawan feels there is a general insecurity and a kind of apprehension among the public as to what is going to come out of the new technological innovation that is going to come into force from April 2020 and what will be the repercussions on the present ownership of the BS IV vehicles.

“Indians are very conservative and want to take out the last bit of juice from their investments, hence want to wait and see how the new technology is going to shape up,” he adds.

Brand guru Harish Bijoor says, “The auto industry is going through its usual cycle of slump and boom in India. Every 11 years you see a slump. India is a tough market as well, as postponement of purchase is something everyone does all the while”.


Ad Spends

As the industry is dealing with sales slowdowns, will the auto ad spends see a down fall or will it remain the same?

“The industry will curtail spends for sure. They have done just that. They needs to stop advertising and pause to reinvent their core market entry strategy for India. Garnering insight that is uniquely Indian is a core competence for the auto industry to acquire,” says, Bijoor.

However, others will feel it won’t make much of a difference and companies will advertise more to interest buyers.

Dhawan believes, “For the moment the advertising budget and its associated exercise is not going to come down till the entire pattern of sales levels out. In fact I see a very robust push to try and get the market back, and in the process advertising may also see a boost”. 

“An industry which spends more on ads is a sign of an under-confident one. And I do see that advertisements will go up in the next two years reflecting this uncertainty. But I can also almost see that consumer interest in cars will not increase if they do not innovate dramatically”, opines Chandramouli.

Marketing budget

When results are not profitable for the company, due to declining sales in a consecutive term, it impacts the overall marketing budget of the company. Chandramouli agrees. “Marketing budgets are decided as a percentage of the sales, and if sales fall, then marketing falls, leading to lesser sales, and entire categories can fall into themselves,” he says.

“If the present scenario holds longer I guess the car manufacturers will have to put their heads together to work out newer production and sales policies to keep their monetary equation in place,” opines Dhawan.

Revival of the Industry

There are various reasons because of which the industry is struggling. It started last year with the Kerala floods, new policies and multi- year insurance, which have put extra pressure on customers. Also, disruptors like Ola and Uber played a major role in scrapping the market. The industry, which has contributed to India’s economy and considered the fourth largest by sales, needs revival.

Tutu says, “The need of the hour is the awareness and assurance to consumers of the investments and if some taxation/ interest rates relief”.

“The industry needs to think as an industry, and not as individual brands. Invest in insights that are capable of disrupting the market altogether”, adds Bijoor.

“The age of subsidy is gone, and so the age of innovation must come into the auto segment. New products, new designs, never seen before products that are not only in luxury cars, but even in all common vehicles will pick up interest”, states Chandramouli.

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‘Índia is by far the fastest growing AdEx markets in the world’

In a chat with e4m, GroupM’s M Parthasarathy and MMA India’s Moneka Khurana spoke about the marketers guide for transforming marketeers and more

By Nilanjana Basu | May 30, 2023 2:28 PM   |   6 min read


GroupM and MMA India unveiled a report “Modern Marketers Guide for Transforming Marketeers” on Tuesday as they set out to guide marketeers on the changing environment in the world of marketing, and how they can do that smartly and successfully.

Speaking exclusively to exchange4media about the report and how marketers can thrive in this era were GroupM’s Chief Strategy Officer – South Asia, M Parthasarathy and MMA India’s Country Head Moneka Khurana.

Parthasarathy talked to us about what inspired this report and its aim. “The theme of this report is on transforming to thrive. What we are saying here is that there has been a period of tremendous uncertainty, not just when we thought we were out of the entire COVID debacle, there's been lots more uncertainty, whether it's inflation, war, so on and so forth. And at the same time, there's been lots of advancements as well, whether it's in terms of technology, whether it's in terms of consumer behaviour and so on. So, the entire aim of this is to literally look at how can how companies and brands are looking to transform in order to not just survive, but also thrive in this in this new age.”

Speaking about the factors that affected the need to transform, Moneka said, “There were three top factors which came out as the need to transform and to think very out of the box to be able to thrive. Those three like, one of the factors MAPS mentioned was, of course COVID. Second being the pace at which technology is evolving, and third being the shift in the consumer mindset itself. So, these three have been extremely potent reasons why the need to transform the tribe as a narrative just lands perfectly.”

Talking about what marketers should invest in amid the plethora of opportunities that they have, Moneka said that the most important bundle to invest into for marketers are the marketers themselves. “So primarily, it's the need for marketeers to be to become full-stack marketeers, who are not only doing what a marketer does, but who are able to drive performance using data and technology at the heart of it, and yet, build the brand and the reputation with storytelling, with design with cultural nuance and with of course, better and equals creative tools.

The second area, which we can't ignore, is investing in data stacks. So, when we say data stacks, it's not investing literally only into collecting data, but it's investing into the entire ecosystem of building a very rock solid, robust data driven strategy and data driven approach to business.”

On a similar note, Parthasarathy says he believes testing is one thing marketeers should spend their bucks on. “I think there's one investment which is never given enough priority, in my opinion, and that's the investment into test and learn. As we move into an era of more and more volatility, the only way for marketers to thrive will be to have a very strong test-and-learn process and a kind of a culture of test-and-learn and there is an investment required. There's a financial investment as well, which is required in that test and learn. It's about learning about consumers, trying to learn about what works, measuring each and every aspect because very often we see even today that learnings are in the head of individuals and not institutionalized.”

With India’s fast paced growth economically in the last few years, Parthasarathy says “India today is the eighth largest ad ex market in the globe. It was tenth not too long ago, and it's moved to the eighth position. More importantly than that, it is by far the fastest growing ad ex markets in the world. Our Group M has this year, next year report which we publish every year. In 2023, the expected growth is around just ahead of 15% as per February estimates. Obviously, we keep calibrating it periodically and so on. Now, last year, as well, it was about 15.7% when we look at 2022 over 2021. So, it's extremely robust while the overall entire world is growing at perhaps half that speed. The second point is even when you look forward into a period up to 2027, we are looking at a CAGR growth of anywhere in the region of 12% to 14%. So, this market is projected to continue to grow, continue to grow ahead of global levels. The other interesting thing is till date, if I look at 2023 it's the only market perhaps among the large markets where every form of media is growing; digital TV, print, radio cinema, out of home, so I think those are positive indicators. That's how marketers are also kind of increasing their investments.”

Moneka spoke about the AI trends as that is turning out to be a game changer this year. “AI obviously has multiple use cases and they will only keep growing, but when we talk about AI for marketing, there are clearly some very strong trends which are emerging and which are also already showing immense success. So, for example, enabling AI powered personalization, that's a very big trend. Whether it is through communication through media, through creative through influencer marketing, but enabling AI powered personalization is a very key trend, to a point where it's already for one of the global reports that mme released some part of the last quarter. It's already shown that when you deploy AI powered personalization, you would see a 25% increase in your customer retention and you will see a 20% growth in revenue.

Second is even when you look at AI from a lens of influencer marketing, there is a lot of experimentation happening on creating AI avatars and creating ways where you could use influencers and ambassadors multiculturallym multilingually and that also is a very big trend. The third is, I wouldn't even actually call it a trend, I would call it as oxygen for businesses. That's basically about having a driving data first marketing where you're continuously finding ways of leveraging data, whether it is your own data, whether it is second party data, whether it's third party data or blended data, but leveraging data effectively to drive marketing and growth.

Parthasarthy, speaking about the balance between creative marketing techniques and technology, said, “The message and the medium are now inseparable. I think what is important is to leverage these trends in the best manner possible manner.”

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Retail therapy: Decoding Myntra’s love for celebs

Sunder Balasubramanian, CMO of Myntra, talks to us about roping in fashion icons like SRK and Kiara for its latest campaign and how the brand keeps experimenting to stay relevant with consumers

By Tanzila Shaikh | May 30, 2023 9:12 AM   |   3 min read


“The role of celebrities is critical for fashion and beauty,” asserts Sunder Balasubramanian, the CMO of Myntra. He was speaking to e4m on the e-commerce platform’s recent campaigns for its End of Reason Sale (EORS).

Myntra has roped in Shah Rukh Khan and Kiara Advani to promote the same with a set of quirky ad films.

“In the fashion industry and when you talk to consumers at large, the role of celebrities is critical because that is aspirational for consumers to start with and when they start thinking of fashion choices, they say what does my favourite celebrity, wear and endorse which is different for many categories. Kiara has done multiple campaigns for us in the past, but when it comes to EORS, it plays an important role in democratizing fashion in the country.”

On getting SRK on board, Balasubramanian shared, “SRK is someone who resonates with every cohort, right from the GenZ to the millennials - men or women, whether urban or rural.”

The superstar will be featured in a number of commercials highlighting innovative features of Myntra's EORS-18. The campaign will be promoted with multi-media amplification before, during, and after EORS-18. Myntra is banking on SRK’s fanbase for making the campaign big.

Talking about roping in celebrities from the South, Balasubramanian said, “For us as a brand, it is about associating with fashion icons everywhere.”

We also asked the CMO on the flak the brand received with some of its campaigns, alleging that it was spreading negativity. While many loved the humorous take on fashion in the films, a few questioned the morality.

Balasubramanian noted that people are welcome to perceive the concept but the brand is just trying to tap into the insights they have received on how people find their previous dressing habits funny.

The brand recently onboarded a virtual influencer - Maya - to talk to the GenZ audiences who are excited about the virtual universe. 

Asked about having a virtual influencer when the brand already has been working with macro and micro-influencers, Balasubramanian said, “We are keeping pace with the changes in the world. For the GenZ, the digital avatar or the virtual world is part of their daily lives. Myntra has always been experimentative and always follows trends.”

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On the buzz around AI, Balasubramanian said the brand wanted to study the problems or barriers with this new technology before getting on to the bandwagon - “what are the problems and barriers, when the consumer is looking at your platform and what are the different ways to solve it”.

Asked about the media mix for the EORS campaign, the CMO said they would be banking heavily on TV for reach and influencers for call-to-action purposes. In the coming future, the platform has many such things in store with celebrities, influencers as well as marketing initiatives.”

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Whether at work or at home, always ask for help: Sujata Dwibedy to working moms

In this edition of e4m's Mom Boss series, we speak to Dwibedy, Chief Investment and Trading Officer, Amplifi India, Dentsu, for her take on balancing motherhood with career

By Aditi Gupta | May 30, 2023 8:10 AM   |   2 min read

Sujata Dwibedi

When it comes to motherhood, Sujata Dwibedy, Chief Investment and Trading Officer, Amplifi India, Dentsu, does not hesitate in asking for help from her immediate family and friends.

For this mom of a 17-year-old girl, and someone who has over 24 years of experience in media planning, buying and research, success is no more about designations in the workplace but inspiring her child to have the same values as her.

Talking to exchange4media, Sujata said that her idea of success has changed after being a mother as it has taught her patience and forgiveness.

“Being a mom truly changes the way we look at things. Patience, forgiveness, empathy and compassion come naturally to me now. So, success to me after 18 years of motherhood is no more about designation.

“It is more about setting an example in terms of resilience, honesty, integrity, loyalty and sincerity. It is more about her recognising and looking after the values that I follow without me talking much about it. As we grow older, we realise these intangible things are critical and it is important to imbibe these values amongst them,” she said.

Sujata says it is tough to balance being a mother and a professional especially in the industry she is in.

“The journey of being a working mother in a nuclear family, and especially in the industry we are in, is not really easy but with the many challenges, the most difficult thing is overcoming the guilt that we don’t spend enough time with our children takes a lot of our energy.

“With my kid growing up I realised it is more critical to spend quality time. I have been very vocal in asking for help whether it is family, friends or relatives,” she said.

As advice to working mothers, Sujata said “never give up”.

“Never give up. The universe is always there to support us. Never hesitate to ask for help whether it is at work or home or neighbourhood. Do not overload yourself with the burden of being a super woman. Take help. Meals can be managed with so many apps available now. You don’t have to do everything.

“Don’t give up the job for which you have worked so hard. There are bad days and tough times but when the going gets tough, the tough gets going,” she said.

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Mobil signs Hrithik Roshan as brand ambassador

Mobil had earlier partnered with Roshan’s action thriller ‘Vikram Vedha’

By exchange4media Staff | May 29, 2023 6:38 PM   |   1 min read


Mobil has announced actor Hrithik Roshan as its new brand ambassador.

Well-known for his confidence and unrivalled energy, Hrithik emerged as the obvious choice to highlight Mobil’s brand values of driving human progress, building confidence, and enabling customers to unlock their true potential, the company said.

Announcing the partnership, Vipin Rana, CEO, ExxonMobil Lubricants Pvt Ltd, said, “We are excited to partner with Hrithik Roshan for our Mobil lubricants in India.  We believe his personality will resonate well with trade partners and consumers to feel confident about what Mobil can deliver to serve India’s lubrication needs”.

Commenting on the brand association, actor Hrithik Roshan said, “I am really looking forward to partnering with Mobil and its trusted brand name that is recognized world over. I strongly believe that confidence is the real driving force of champions to make a difference to people’s lives and the community, and this is what the Mobil brand is all about”.

Mobil had earlier partnered with Hrithik Roshan’s action thriller ‘Vikram Vedha’ which reiterated on the message that prioritizing one’s wellness by making the right choices was important.”

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PlayerzPot launches new campaign #TalentKiValue with Rashmika Mandanna

The campaign will reintroduce and recognize India’s unsung indoor gaming talents to the excitement of skill-based popular games on the PlayerzPot platform

By exchange4media Staff | May 29, 2023 4:04 PM   |   3 min read


As the IPL season draws to a close, PlayerzPot, an online gaming platform today unveiled a campaign titled #TalentKiValue along with their brand ambassador Rashmika Mandanna, to keep up with the fervor and enthusiasm of fans of fantasy gaming.  Leveraging the strong connection between the diva and her fans through an interesting line-up of digital films, this campaign aims to empower the highly talented indoor gamers in almost every Indian household.

“A youth icon, Rashmika Mandanna topped the Forbes 2021 list of the most influential stars in South cinema. She is an avid gamer and is making her presence felt in global sports platforms while delivering back-to-back blockbusters. Her charming persona will strike a direct connection through this amazing campaign, which inspires indoor gaming champs in every Indian household by reintroducing them to their favourite games and recognizing them in the PlayerzPot platform. The campaign will be aired on various digital platforms, and OTT,” the company said in a release.

The campaign films involve Rashmika Mandanna as a celeb gamer encouraging and recognising the prowess of every indoor game’s expert, now on PlayerzPot. In a country where gaming is still largely considered a hobby, #TalentKiValue applauds the players for their talents through a series of contests and games with a chance to win exciting prizes. The core idea is to amplify the only demand of gamers in the country, which is #TalentKiValue.

Speaking on the launch of the campaign, Sunil Yadav, Chief Executive Officer, PlayerzPot, said, “Skill-based gaming is one of the biggest gaming categories that have caught the fancy of the country, across age-groups. However, the larger Indian gaming community is still years behind making a viable career out of skill-based casual games, that too in mobile format. With PlayerzPot, mobile gaming is serious for creators and players, and Rashmika’s charismatic on-screen appeal and national influence will be a game-changer for players enjoying an array of options on our app. After the humongous success in the fantasy gaming segment, we are now confident of leading in the skill-based segment, especially in tier II and tier III cities.”

RashmikaMandanna, renowned actor and Brand Ambassador, PlayerzPot, said, “We have all grown up playing Ludo, Carrom, chess, and Snakes & Ladders in our homes and societies. And playing these on PlayerzPot now takes me down memory lane every time I play them, including the fierce competitive spirit that takes me over with every game. There are several who play this with a lot of sportsperson spirit and a will to win. #TalentKiValue campaign will be a way for the members of the households to sit up and take note of the latent talent in their household,” she added.

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Amitabh Bachchan partners with GSK for shingles awareness

GSK’s latest campaign film highlights the painful disease and its risk in adults above the age of 50 and the possibility of prevention

By exchange4media Staff | May 29, 2023 3:39 PM   |   2 min read


GSK has announced a partnership with veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan to raise awareness about shingles, a painful condition that affects 1 out of 3 adults above the age of 50 years.  

The campaign film evocatively captures the agonising pain caused by shingles and its debilitating impact on the people living with it. It gives an important message that it is possible to protect ageing adults against this pain through vaccination.

Commenting on the partnership, Amitabh Bachchan said, “Shingles is known to be painful and thus certainly a setback to senior citizens. For prevention against Shingles, I recommend the Senior Citizens to talk to their Doctors.”

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. The virus remains inactive in the body after a person recovers from it. When the immunity of the body weakens, it re-activates to cause shingles. More than 90% of Indians by the age of 50 years have this virus in their body and are vulnerable to shingles.

Rashmi Hegde, Medical Director, GSK, said, “Amitabh Bachchan has been the face of several disease and vaccination awareness campaigns before, and his support has motivated people to take the required action to prevent these diseases. Today, India's ageing population is rising, and we need to make them aware of diseases such as shingles which can impact their quality of life. We believe this will persuade more people to talk to their doctors about protecting themselves or their loved ones from shingles.”

The film has been conceptualised and executed by Lowe Lintas. The creative focus is on capturing the intensity of the shingles pain through powerful metaphors and images. The representation of pain is based on scientifically documented patient testimonies.

Commenting on the creative insight for the film, Sagar Kapoor, Chief Creative Officer (Global Brands), Lowe Lintas said, “Our challenge was to find a way to 'show' the unbearable pain of shingles, a sensation that can only be 'felt'. That is why we have made use of imagery such as sharp nails piercing the body or a person getting electric shocks. We do not want to scare people, but we want to make them aware that Shingles can be extremely painful, and it can be prevented.”

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Sachin Tendulkar stars in Ageas Federal Life Insurance's 'Sachinverse'

The campaign launched with a film featuring the cricketing legend that highlights how technology will deeply disrupt every aspect of life

By exchange4media Staff | May 29, 2023 2:03 PM   |   2 min read


Ageas Federal Life Insurance launched its new brand campaign – ‘Sachinverse’, an optimistic vision of the future.

The campaign launched with a film featuring cricketing legend and brand ambassador, Sachin Tendulkar that highlights how technology will deeply disrupt each and every aspect of life from education to social interaction, to mobility, to household chores and even cricket.

In a virtual ‘Sachinverse’, the different avatars of Sachin Tendulkar take viewers through various scenarios including a virtual cricket stadium, onion-chopping robots, holographic cafes and a driverless car all rendered in a heady mix of animation styles.

Driving home the message that while the future might be exciting, evolving and uncertain, by focusing on financial planning and investing in life insurance, one can face the future with optimism, hope and confidence.

Karthik Raman, Chief Marketing Officer and Head – Products, Ageas Federal Life Insurance said, “At Ageas Federal Life Insurance, we believe in staying ahead of the curve and doing things differently. A recent study* by McKinsey suggests that in the next five years, Gen Z, millennials and Gen X consumers may spend between four and five hours a day in the metaverse, using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) devices.

As we gear up for a very different future, our latest campaign, Sachinverse talks about being prepared for a landscape that is rapidly being reshaped by technology. Building on our long-term brand philosophy of #FutureFearless, we continue to remind people that with timely investment in life insurance, they can be adequately prepared for any uncertainties or disruptions that life throws at us.”

To execute the Sachinverse, multiple renditions of sketches were created to ensure that the physique and facial features closely resembled Sachin. Extra care was also taken to bring alive and recreate not only Sachin’s character but also the different realms of the metaverse.

The Sachinverse campaign was conceptualized and created in partnership with VMLY&R India. It is a completely digital-led campaign using social media platforms, influencer pages, and different digital media like OTT platforms and news sites.

Rajshekar Patil, National Creative Director at VMLY&R said, “Ageas Federal Life Insurance’s communication has been refreshing when compared to how the insurance segment communicates, with films like Young Sachin and The Boy Who Dreamed. Sachinverse is yet another refreshing take on the category. The idea of using the theme of technology and animation came naturally because audiences today want to see stories that reflect their world and also borrow from popular culture.”

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