Amul doubles marketing spends during lockdown
In a contrarian call, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, popularly known as Amul, doubled its marketing spends across media during the lockdown which helped the brand gain advantage over rivals in terms of sales, brand building and gaining top of the mind recall.
Unlike other consumer brands, which curtailed or stopped all advertising during April and May, Amul upped the ante.
“We never saw logic in stopping advertising,” said RS Sodhi, managing director, Amul,“For us, brand building is like long-term asset building and not just a sales pitch. More importantly, advertising is another form of communication with the consumer, and for us, they are family. So if a family member is distressed, we should communicate more, rather than less.” And that’s exactly what Amul did.
During an annual review meeting with its media agency IPG Mediabrands on March 13th, when Indian government hadn’t even announced the nationwide lockdown, Sodhi asked agency’s India CEO Shashi Sinha on his thoughts on how the next few months are going to pan out for consumer companies.
Sinha was quick to point out the possibility of a lockdown—and also an opportunity to take the brand’s story forward at low rates.
“To his credit, he (Sodhi) heard us and within 40 minutes, he said, he would double the ad spends, if we can get some good deals. We started making calls and within 2-3 days, we got some great deals across TV channels, print and digital media. Once lockdown was imposed, Amul was practically the only brand which was advertising,” Sinha said.
And numbers back the claim: As per TAM Adex data from Tam Media Research, during the months of April and May 2020, Amul’s ad volumes witnessed a threefold (316%) increase over the corresponding period last year.
Between April and May, Amul’s ad volumes Amul went up by almost 21%.
Doubling of advertising budgets for Amul was a calculated risk which paid off very handsomely for the brand.
Amul dominated the ad volumes by over 87% of share of voice in six out of 12 categories it operates in— ‘Sweets/Other Milk Products’, ‘Milk’, ‘Milk Powder/Condensed Milk’, ‘Ready To Eat Food’, ‘Butter/Margarine’ and ‘Cheese/Cheese Spreads’.
Even in the non-aerated soft drinks category, Amul’s share was 51% compared to other summer advertisers including packaged juice brands.
“After we upped the spending, it was clear that families were watching TV together. And just a week after, we hit a jackpot when ‘Ramayan’ and ‘Mahabharat’ came back on Doordarshan. We immediately grabbed the sponsorship deal,” Sodhi said. “We knew it would get good viewership, but we never anticipated such response. We got 10 times more viewership than the Indian Premier League (IPL), at one tenth of the cost.”
Ask experts, why did Amul’s contrarian strategy work so well? They say, the brand storytelling abilities clicked again. “If you want to chronicle the top events during the three months of the lockdown, you just have to arrange the hoardings of Amul in chronological order. They have produced some exceptionally good advertising in the last 2-3 months, which struck a chord with the customer, who doesn’t care about the media plans,” said Sandeep Goyal, veteran ad man and chairman of Mogae Media.
Some smart and innovative moves, including bringing old advertisements back during reruns of ‘Ramayan’ and ‘Mahabharat’ also got Amul a “disproportionately heightened” share of voice, which was way beyond their investment. “They timed it well,” said Goyal.
Most importantly, it was the uninterrupted distribution supply chain of Amul, which ensured that the products were available even during the lockdown and the ad blitz translated into more sales.
Sodhi said Amul incentivised all supply chain partners to maintain a smooth running supply chain through-out the disruption.
“During the 80 days of lockdown, we have given Rs 11,000 crore cash to our farmers. Our milk procurement was also up by 17%, and there was a 30-40% increase in sale of milk, butter, paneer and cheese,” Sodhi said.
Source : economictimes.indiatimes