Mumbai/New Delhi: Auto companies cut back advertising spends on traditional media such as television and print in the first half of 2007 compared with a year ago as softening sales forced them to look at other ways of reaching out to consumers.
Auto advertising in print media fell 11% to Rs475 crore in the first six months of 2007 and on television by 0.54% to Rs848 crore, compared with a year ago, according to data from Adex India, a division of TAM Media Research. This compares with a rise of 5% and 16% for overall spend on print and TV advertising, respectively.
Media experts say this could be due to the diversion of funds to activities such as direct mailers and point-of-purchase promotions at a time when sales are taking a hit
due to higher lending rates.
Brand placement: Chevrolet Aveo tied up with movie production house Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd for the film Tara Rum Pum, which featured the auto brand extensively.
Vehicle sales in Asia’s fourth largest automobile market fell 5.6% in the quarter ended June, the first decline in six years, as buyers postponed or avoided purchases smarting from lending rates that are at a five-year high. This has prompted companies to spend more on dealer discounts and promotional schemes. “We are increasing dealer activity in order to generate more enquiries from prospective consumers,” says Jnaneshwar Sen, senior general manager, marketing, Honda Siel Cars India Ltd.
“As competition in the auto sector hots up, every company is looking at different ways to create consumer touch points and use innovative means to engage the audience,” says Mona Jain, executive vice-president at India Media Exchange, a media buying house. “They are choosing the mediums more carefully, cautiously and consciously,” she adds.
“Advertisers are no longer edgy about using newer mediums,” says Pratap Bose, CEO of Ogilvy and Mather India, an advertising agency. “While it is still a small amount in comparison to spends on traditional media such as television, digital is slicing away a certain proportion of spends.”
General Motors India Ltd, for instance, launched an extensive Internet campaign for its Chevrolet Spark brand which it introduced in April. Tata Motors Ltd, India’s largest auto maker by revenues, too, used digital media to promote its Safari brand of sports utility vehicles. “Digital media is giving us a decent return on investment (in advertising),” says Ankush Arora, vice-president, marketing and sales, at General Motors India. “That’s why a lot of emphasis is being paid to this media,” he adds.
Another media, which has made a comeback is the radio, where auto spends have increased nine times to Rs11.5 crore in the six months to June compared with a year ago. According to audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers’ latest report on the Indian entertainment and media industry, India will have over 245 new FM radio stations by the end of 2007.
“The target audience, especially in metro cities such as Mumbai, spends a fair amount of time commuting in their car due to traffic jam ,” says Jai Lala, general manager at Mindshare, a media buying agency. “Companies are constantly looking at various means to reach their target consumers, through messages on the mobile, digital media and through outdoor media at retail spaces such as malls, multiplexes, airports and even on the in-flight entertainment network,” he adds.
Auto companies are also tying up with media firms, including movie production houses, for brand placements on prime time shows or content-led advertising opportunities, like when an auto company sponsors a road trip show featuring their cars. Chevrolet Aveo, for instance, tied up with production house Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd for its film Tara Rum Pum, which featured the auto brand extensively.
Still, advertising spend is proportional to the number of brand launches. “Ad spends are dictated by product launches,” says Amit Nandi, general manager (two-wheeler marketing) at Bajaj Auto Ltd.
A ballpark estimate suggests that the first half of 2006 saw 15 new brands and variant introductions of passenger cars compared with 10 in 2007.