“personal attention from agencies is lacking”, Ajay Kakar, CMO, Aditya Birla Group


Effective experiential marketing is essentially being visible to your target group and, while at it, keep them positively engaged with the brand. Sounds like a piece of cake. But with a series of mediums available, multiple divisions within target groups and often stipulated budgets, deciding the right strategy to go by can be one colossal challenge.

Enter experiential marketing agency. With the primary focus of bringing brands to life via experiences, agencies ensure ‘interactive conversations’ through ideas that engage and create impact. But a big challenge for agencies is to convince brand owners on the efficacy of their ideas. Last week you heard it from the horse’s mouth- our interview withRoshan Abbas, MD Encompass events, clearly defines the many roadblocks for an agency and its conflicting relationship with brands. Today we speak to Ajay Kakar, Chief Marketing Officer, Aditya Birla Group, to hear a marketers view on the subject:

EE: How does the Aditya Birla Financial Services Group (ABFSG) embrace experiential marketing? 

At ABFSG we believe that we are in the business of ‘experiential marketing’. And let me explain why I say so.

I have always been inspired by this quote of Jeremy Bullmore, “Consumers build an image [of a brand] as birds build nests. From the scraps and straws they chance upon."

In today’s world, a consumer gets a chance to build an image of a brand in his mind, in just so many ways; far more than ever in the past. At ABFGS we believe that each of these customer ‘touch points’ is a potential point of customer engagement or if I may say, customer experience for our brand.

This becomes all the more relevant, when we contextualize this thought with the reality of the Financial Services industry, where we have no tangible product to sell. Our customer builds his perception basis what he ‘experiences’, be it in our branch, with our agent, through our ads, in the digital world, while reading editorial or in the market place.

So, as Marketing, whatever we do at ABFSG is aimed at creating and building memorable experiences.

EE: How much of its marketing budget is Aditya Birla spending on experiential? 

In our minds, 100% of our budgets are spent on creating experiences, and therefore, on experiential.

EE: When you go in for an experiential marketing campaign, do you go in on a whim or have clear expectations of ROI?

While we would love to shed the ‘cost centre’ tag that typically attaches itself to a marketing function, we realize that a pure ROI measure may not be practical. But we would like to have every rupee spent measurable and accountable, be it on qualitative parameters or quantitative.

EE: What is the biggest problem when you are calibrating what agency to associate with? 

We believe in the old world definition of an agency partner, as a Brand Custodian and Brand Steward. Regrettably, in today’s world the universe to search from, for such a partner, is very limited.

Each team in an agency typically focuses on many clients and therefore rarely has time to think on your brand, beyond the immediate brief in hand.

EE: How do you rate experiential as opposed to traditional advertising? 

All forms of engagement and experience have an important role to play in the building and nurturing of a brand. However, each category has its own demands on how much focus to give which discipline.

EE: In four words- What do you expect from the agency?? 

Passion. Ownership. Commitment. Accountability

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