Lloyd Mathias, President and Chief Marketing Officer, Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL), is a busy man. Come January, and he will have an added responsibility on this shoulders, chairing the jury of WOW Awards 2010.
Mathias heads Marketing, Product Management, Business Development and Alliances, Devices; Supply Chain, Logistics; and Valued Added Services at TTSL. As CMO, Mathias' role straddles Tata Teleservices's brands (Tata Indicom; Tata Docomo); wireless internet access service (Tata Photon) and the fixed wireless phone (Tata Walky). TTSL brands have scorched the market in recent months, crafting a price war with per-second-billing on Docomo and driving the proposition with telling effect on air and on ground.
Prior to his current assignment, Mathias was the Senior Director, Sales, Distribution and Operations Head of Motorola's South West Asia region. Lloyd held responsibility for Motorola's handset business and was part of Motorola's India country council.
Prior to joining Motorola in August 2005, Lloyd was Executive Vice-President of Marketing at PepsiCo South Asia, where he built a formidable reputation in creating and nurturing consumer brands.
In 2007, he was named among the world's top 15 marketers, by Inter national list magazine - a list that celebrates those international marketers who are truly the people behind outstanding cross border campaigns.
In conversation with WOW Awards 2010 Convenor Gokul Krishnamurthy, Lloyd Mathias gives entrants a sense of what the jury would expect from entries at the awards this year. Excerpts:
Gokul Krishnamurthy: There is a view that there is no ATL or BTL, because the line has vanished. In terms of agencies executing promotions, there still seem to be a line. What is your take?
Lloyd Mathias: I think there is a line. Over time, Below-the-line (BTL) as we understand it, which is more in terms of field level interventions, consumer level activations, in-store activities, and the like, is beginning to gain in prominence. My top line feedback is that today consumers want to participate a little bit in the marketing efforts. As marketers, we now we have conversations with the consumer; earlier we used to have monologues. We told the consumer what our brand stood for, what our unique proposition was, and so on. Today, consumers are pretty keen that their voice should be heard and some of their views be taken into account as well. From a brand marketers talking to a consumer, it is today a conversation between them.
Therefore, activation plays a very key role, because that is where the brand encounters the consumer at a one-on-one level, as opposed to mass media where it is typically one-to-many.
Is telecom an industry where experiential marketing has a larger play, given the customer care centers, multiple touch points?
Mathias: Telecom lends itself to more of interactivity. Firstly, it's a very personal category, where the service is consumed all the time - you have the phone with you 24 hours a day. Secondly, everyone's usage patterns are vastly different, as compared to an FMCG product. If it's a product like a Pepsi or a soap, there's only so many ways in which you can consume a category. So in Telecom, you need to look at and target virtually each consumer separately - your old segmentation model doesn't work for Telecom as a category.
For FMCG products, the consumers are segmented in a certain manner and then all the communication is targeted to these segments. The way telecom has grown in the last 10 years, reaching 500 million subscribers, it doesn't lend itself to classical segmentation. Every consumer becomes important; how you communicate to him or reach out to him says a lot about your brand, which is more than what your advertising would.
Given that on-ground activations have grown so much, there are some clients that are working with specialist promotions agency on an AoR basis, which was not the case some time back. What is your experience / take on this?
Mathias: It's important to work closely with one or just a few promotion agencies. But the importance of this process is more about the fact that over time, a good promotions agency is able to pick up the nuances about your brand. Let's look back for a moment: In say the 80's and 90's, there was only one ad agency that looked into all services, creative and media. And then, over the years, the media function got segregated.
Today, the challenge for many marketers is how to integrate all communication and ensure the brand has one voice and one tone. Whether it is ATL in the form of a TV ad or a print campaign, or specifically creating a point of activation for the consumer, the tonality and how the brand speaks has to be similar. You cannot have a fun, wacky brand that promotes itself very seriously in a promotion or at a concert. You cannot have a product in a fairly ‘serious' category that promotes itself in a rock show. The incongruence won't go down well with consumers, and affects all the efforts put in through all channels, because it confuses consumers.
So it becomes important for the promotions agency to have worked closely with the client to understand the brand's core personality and need. Therefore, the kind of promoters they hire, the kind of venue choose will have to be in tune with the brand, and that is critical for the brand.
On the subject of congruence, for a brand like Tata DOCOMO, which is maverick and funny, is it more a challenge to crate on ground promotions, which are in sync with the brand identity?
Mathias: Not really. The moment we started doing activities like associating with music concerts and stand up comedy, the strategic intent was obvious. What is important is that to ensure you have the right forum, and that your methodology of activation is consistent. Therefore when Docomo participated on Twitter, we were very conscious that the tone and the language had to be very similar to what we do on Television. These efforts ensure there is commonality in how the brand is perceived.
Do you work with one agency or multiple agencies for on-ground promotions?
Mathias: We have one or two anchor agencies, but do end up working with multiple. In Telecom, you have to factor the depth of penetration. We actually deal with 22 circles across the country, and certain agencies are very strong in certain pockets. While the bigger agencies will have offices all the metros, when you go a Jhansi or a Gwalior or a Trichy, you won't get the same quality of experience. So very often we perforce work with multiple agencies.
Measurability of events and promotions has always been in question; past efforts have failed except for specific sales promotions. Comment.
Mathias:We need to get far more sharper metrics in. While we're beginning to see some of them, we have a long way to go. Clearly, it's also the maturity of the marketer / client, to define metrics more evolved than just sales value. The obvious metric is how much translated into sales. A very good promotion or activation, has to add something to the brand value. So at the end of a promotion, you should not only feel that it has contributed to some volume increase (which is critical), but it also need to speak back a little about the brand, enhancing the brand perception. We need to look at it holistically.
As a judge for the WOW Awards 2010, what would your message be to entrants?
Mathias:The basic thing is whether the promotion idea or thought springs from the core of the brand. A promotion idea that comes from the core of the brand will always give back the maximum returns, not only in terms of volumes but also in terms of brand preference. It's the power of the idea and its closeness the brand source or the brand essence.
The second part is the ease and simplicity of the execution. Sometimes, the best ideas fail because of complexity in execution. If it's a promotion idea that needs simplistic execution, that is always something you will cherish.
For each entry at WOW Awards, entrants need to state the objective, scale, amplification through media and results, among other things. There is a lot of emphasis from marketers on the amplification through media, often overshadowing the rest of the parameters. Is this the right way to evaluate a sponsorship or brand association with an event or promotion?
Mathias: It is debatable. There is an old rule in marketing which says that for every dollar you spend on sponsorship, you should ensure you spend three dollars in amplifying it. The challenge is that no matter how widespread your promotion is, the number of customers it touches is still limiting, because there is a cost per contact associated with it. Media amplification gives it a much larger window. It's nice to be touched by a promotion, but it's equally nice to know about the promotion.
There is a bit of pressure on marketers to amplify, typically through paid media or through PR. But it is important, because only then will you get a wider spread to the whole promotional thought.