Memoirs Of An Agile Marketer

Brand leaders from Microsoft, MTR Foods and Amul reflect on changing marketing strategies that are in line of pursuing growth

Marketing teams, like all their counterparts, continue to cover new ground and face unprecedented challenges. Some of these are from the crisis year that was, and some from the sheer changes in status quo with changing media landscape and digital adoption. Irrespective of this, in the new world order, a marketing lead is a company chief’s partner in growth.

Even as newer kinds of roles with focus on brand, transformation, innovation, technology or information comes in play, MTR Foods’s Chief Marketing Officer, Sunay Bhasin explains that this is more reflective of a company’s growth strategies and immediate focus areas than implications of the changes in marketing as it is known.

“Nomenclatures or not so important. Organization may have certain critical factors that they need attention on, in the here and now. The leadership’s role however is to do so without compromising the growth agenda, and marketing has a critical role to play in this,” he says.

He reminds that all organizations, in their journey of transformation, will continue to be consumer centric. “This requires all functions to collaborate and collectively drive the company corporate agenda. This is the only way to pursue growth,” Bhasin explains.

In this pursuit, the pause button on marketing can prove to be a setback or even detrimental. Several crisis situations have evidenced the fact that marketing in tough times proves beneficial to brand and business value. 

“The country was under lockdown, but the people needed milk and we had that supply to fulfill everyone's needs. It was a market necessity but even on the communication front, we realize that we have to be top of mind,” recalls Jayen Mehta, Sr General Manager, Planning & Marketing, GCMMF (Amul), as he explains the thought process of the brand being present on TV, outdoor and digital.

“We started our campaign with Ramayana and Mahabharata from the day it was launched. We got 10 times the viewership of IPL, for three months, at a much lower cost. Also, we were the largest advertiser on news channels then. We were the only ones who started print advertising and nobody was doing that. We were the first ones to get back on radio. We had to be on top because that was the need of the hour, and the benefits were for all to see,” Mehta adds. 

Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer, Hitu Chawla, points out that even as marketing purses were restrained during the crisis times, the year gone created a perfect opportunity for modern marketing to shine. “It was not about cutting down spends but about moving them where the consumers are. As a marketer, you have to be this agile to ensure that the brand is steered in the right direction, at the right time.”

For Chawla, this is perhaps also one of the best ways to build trust in not only marketing as a function but establish how brand value does equal to business outcomes. 

“If you see the kind of changes that have happened, businesses that are bouncing back and are bouncing stronger did not cut their marketing spend. In fact, they actually increased it and were spending their dollars on to reflect the new mix that we are operating in,” she comments.

The marketing leaders were speaking at a session in the BW Top 50 Marketers Summit. BW Businessworld’s Group Editorial Director, Noor Fathima Warsia, was chairing the discussion.