Group M's Dialect pledges accountability to clients

MUMBAI: WPP's Group M ventured into the retail and below-the-line (BTL) space with their new strategic business unit (SBU) - Dialect, which is specific only to India. Dialect deals with areas like BTL activities, micro marketing and film marketing. What the agency is gung ho about is the accountability that the unit offers to clients in the retail space, which is literally unheard of.

Group M CEO South Asia Ashutosh Srivastava says that after Broadmind, Dialect is the most important ancillary SBU for Group M since they have seen it delivering results and accumulate clients. "Increasingly more and more clients are coming for advice on this area of marketing ROI," says Srivastava.


The premise that they started out with was that vanilla advertising was not going to work for brands if they wanted to steadily increase market capture. Mindshare South Asia and Mindshare Fulcrum managing director Vikram Sakhuja reiterates, "If you really want to connect with consumers you need to be doing that at a more textural level and in an interactive manner. If we have to interact with consumers then we have to cash in on seven to eight 'activity clusters'. These 'activity clusters' can be defined as - the retail space, shopping, on the move, education, entertainment, home, office and basic lifestyle. These are eight touch points for any brand and the vision that we set for ourselves is that we need to have scalable solutions across geography where we can make these implementations. So in the last six - eight months we are building up on the implementation network."

A USP that Dialect has in this space that no one else can have is that since Group M is also linked to the best of media, they can give a full communication solution to the client. "If we had to do something for GSK, we will also tie up with a print and TV partner and so the ground act suddenly becomes multiplied," says Sakhuja.

The point here is that these things can be undertaken by event management companies through school contact programmes but the advantage that a media agency like Dialect has is that it comes in and leverages its existing relationship with media owners to give that multiplier and therefore partners to make that programme that much more bigger. The agency is also instrumental in coming up with ideas where kids can be engaged in contest and activities with the end result of them being featured either on a television show or a magazine. "When kids see themselves on television and magazines it is a big thing for them. So that's where it becomes different from Hungama or Kids Kraft or any of the other event management companies," says Sakhuja.

He further adds that Dialect also tagged all the responses for a particular activity and looked at what returns were got from all the activities. "So there is a science behind the entire programme. In fact at that point we establish to several clients the value of planning at a socio cultural region level by indulging in market prioritisation," explains Sakhuja.

An example that he gave was that of Pepsodent. The company wanted to do a sampling of seven million for a new variant that they were launching. Dialect got 90 per cent sampling done in Kolkata by tying up with the Calcutta Electrical Supply Corporation (CESC). "We branded the bill envelopes and put a sample of the toothpaste inside the envelopes along with the bill. In a market where electricity reach was not there we tied up with the newspapers like Dainik Jagran and sent samples of the toothpaste with that. Here, we had a tracking system to make sure that tampering didn't happen and that the people actually get the sample," says Sakhuja.

He emphasises on the fact that it was easy for anybody to put just half an hour of thinking and come back with a sampling plan for a brand. "But the guts and glory comes in being able to isolate these at a cost efficient level. The cost solution that we were giving for both the CESC and the Dainik Jagran sampling was significantly lower that what others offer. These require significant investments. This is something that we have worked on for the last 18 months and now we are in a position to have some scale. Today across the top 29 towns I give you 24 per cent reach for your brand. A lot of people do ground acts, road shows etc... but how many people can talk reach? No one can talk reach," stresses Sakhuja.

For BTL activities and micro marketing, the most important communication channel is point of purchase (POP). Sakhuja believes that until now people have been talking about television, print and radio etc but if one can influence somebody closest to the point of purchase surely the bang for the buck would be highest.

Hence via Dialect, Group M plunged into the trade communication space and did full implementation of merchandising for some brands at the same time also giving them metrics in terms of actually being able to measure what their in-store merchandising is.

"The whole game is about accountability. We can tell clients how much their sales have gone up with the in-store merchandising and this makes the game more interesting. Therefore what we would like to be is the preferred marketing partner for clients and that requires a lot of backend research," reiterates Sakhuja.

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