BTL advertising typically focuses on direct means of communication, most commonly direct mail and e-mail, often using highly targeted lists of names to maximize response rates.
--By Dwaipayan Regmi
Above The Line (ATL) and Below The Line (BTL) are two separate approaches of advertising. ATL uses the media for the communication purpose and concentrates on mass advertising. On the other hand, BTL uses localized techniques for advertising and focuses on a limited group. In simple terms, ATL represents the traditional marketing style where advertisements are made for the general mass; an individual consumer doesn’t feel that the advertisement is for him/her personally. Television commercials, newspapers ads, radio jingles, hoarding boards can be kept under ATL advertising. BTL advertising, on the other hand, is localized and focuses on individuals. It is more personal type of communication where personal touch can be observed. Pamphlets, sponsorships, personal selling etc are examples of BTL advertising.
Today, customers want individual care and respect. After all, every individual is different, and after his/her basic needs are fulfilled, he\she wants identity. So, an advertisement of “20% extra glucose” does not attract a consumer with decent income any more than the greeting of the shopkeeper asking him/her to visit again. BTL advertising typically focuses on direct means of communication, most commonly direct mail and e-mail, often using highly targeted lists of names to maximize response rates. Personal touch counts more in today’s world. So, an advertisement of the same glucose brand will be more effective if the consumer is served a glass at the shop while purchasing it. On the one hand, it costs less than the ‘extra 20%’ offer, while on the other, the personal touch makes the consumers special. ATL focuses on promotion of the product to the mass, while BTL can go through sponsorship of any event in the community.
The main purpose of any advertisement is to inform and remind the consumers of any product, persuade them to use it and build and reinforce the brand. Informing and reminding objective can be fulfilled through ATL advertising for sure. But it is BTL advertising which touches the consumers and thus fulfills objectives like persuading the consumers and reinforcing the brand image. You may know that certain product exists in the market through TV commercials, but you will put your hand forward to make a purchase only when you see the advertisement or the product in the shop where you go to make a purchase. In the past, I used to see various noodles advertisements on the television, but I would ask for the product only when I saw it in the store. Availability of product in the store would be known when the posters or banners would be hung on the store itself. Promotional schemes would be the next factor to attract me. One of such schemes, for example, would offer a long pencil on the collection of ten coupons. Hence, I would make purchase of noodles for that.
As a consumer, what kind of advertisement would make a greater impact on you? A soft drink commercial on the television with celebrities? Or the same soft drink company offering a glass of the drink to volunteers of a Bagmati cleaning campaign? You would be pleased and satisfied at the time of the cleaning campaign rather than the time of seeing the celebrities in the advertisement. Brand can be created only when individual satisfaction turns multiple. ATL advertising can never create satisfaction. Such satisfaction can be achieved through BTL advertising. Celebrity endorsement does have a separate scope in brand building, though.
Maybe it is because of this understanding that political parties never focus on ATL advertising during election campaigns. Rather, they spend huge amounts on BTL advertising. They probably are aware that only BTL advertising can play an effective role in persuading the voters and reinforcing the party’s brand image.
BTL advertising helps in building customer relationship as it increases the local touch with the customers. The cost of a BTL advertisement is comparatively lower than that of an ATL advertisement. BTL advertisements can be targeted at the desired market groups and there is no need to spend for the unnecessary groups. Every community is different. So, BTL advertisements can be designed in such a way that each community can enjoy their local taste in the advertisement. This probably is the reason why local languages are increasing being used in advertisements. This brings a feeling of belongingness in the targeted customers. Also, the effectiveness of the advertisement can easily be monitored, and if found to be ineffective, it can be changed any time without the need for making any huge expenditure.
At present, Nepal is planning to get federalized. Thus, it is high time advertisements were localized as well. In the increasing complex mode of promotional options ranging from a click to scrolling down, any marketer should not ignore the basic concepts of perception, interaction and measurability offered by BTL advertising. While, ATL advertising focuses on branding and identity, BTL advertising is important for customer acquisition, retention and loyalty. Branded products should rather concentrate on BTL advertising than investing more in ATL advertising.
The writer is is currently perusing his MBA at Jawaharlal Nehru Technical University, Andhra Pradesh, India.