ATL Advertising

Advertising always sounds like a fun prospect to explore and get into, to promote your brand, doesn’t it? Its only when you are exposed to the technicalities of “above the line”, “below the line”, “through the line” and all other jargon & details that it starts hurting below the belt!

Let’s try and make all things advertising a tad bit easier for you, shall we?

Above the Line is an advertising technique that deploys media such as television, radio, print and out – of – home to promote brands. Simply put, Above the Line advertising is where mass media is used to promote brands and reach out to target audience. Above the Line as an advertising strategy encompasses all conventional medium of advertising. As a collective medium, it reaches a wide segment of its target audience in the form of impersonal communication


Above the Line advertising came into existence as an advertising strategy with Proctor & Gamble (one of the advertising biggies) demarcating the activities their agencies would conduct and hence paying them accordingly. Today, of course it is a strategy that every player in the market, small & big, wants to adopt (Oh, only if budgets allowed it all the time!)

Like any other form of promotion, ATL advertising too comes with its own list of pros. Using conventional advertising medium such as television, radio, print and OOH lets you target a wider spread of audience across geographies. ATL advertising techniques can be deployed to fulfill multiple purposes –right from informing consumers about a product to persuading them to buy more or simply acting as a means of increasing brand recall in the consumer’s mind. But probably the most important off-take for a brand is the consumer perception that “Above the Line” advertising helps drive. It helps make a brand larger than the product, larger than the factory, larger than its people and definitely larger than life.


Above the Line is a concrete strategy that is made up of multiple mediums. Let’s try and break down each of these mediums to understand what benefits they would bring to any brand.

Television – Arguably so, television advertising can be called one of the most powerful forms of advertising since it uses both audio & video to communicate with consumers. While advertising on television, you have the power to segment your advertisement & communication according to your target market to the minutest detail.

Even though television may come across as an expensive advertising medium by the looks of it, when measured on a cost per contact basis, it can be the most effective medium to reach a wide mass of consumers.

But does that mean television should be your ideal medium always? Well, not really.

Television advertising is a beneficial option if you want to reach & influence a wide audience segment across geographies. It is essential that the TV campaign be planned and optimized intelligently. Consumers need a minimum and optimum number of exposures to your communication before they start registering your message and give you a desired response (enquiries / sales / brand recall). If your communication lacks frequency, you TG will not register the message, hence leading to poor campaign results. Another disadvantage of using TV as a medium is a factor that cannot be controlled – spillage. No matter how targeted your TV media plan is, your communication is bound to spill and reach unintended audience as well.

The key to a successful TV campaign lies in planning your media efficiently. We, at Foolish take an alternate approach to buying media and concentrate on getting your message across to the right consumers rather than banking on the spray and pray technique.

Print – If you are a brand looking to target a particular consumer segment in a specific geographical area, exploring print as a medium makes things a tad bit easier for you. Different aspects of print medium such as newspapers, magazines, etc often have a loyal base of readers and that is what attracts brands to print most of the time. But that’s just half the truth.

Print works perfectly for brands who want to communicate and appeal to a highly targeted and specific audience. A widely read national newspaper would give you extensive reach across various segments of your audience. However, if you are promoting a luxury car, you can choose to advertise in elite magazines.

Print also gives you the leeway to convey detailed complex messages detailing your offering. Your audience will be more likely to grasp and understand detailed information when they get to read it leisurely.

On the flip side, if the purpose of advertising is to create brand recall in the consumer’s mind, print might not be the best route to adopt. It turns out to be more expensive and is much more difficult to track the impact that it’s had on the audience. Overall, print medium – be it newspapers, magazines or brochures, have a very short shelf life. Once the audience reads a particular magazine, chances are they will never revisit the particular issue again.

But, there is always a way of making every medium work when it comes to advertising, despite all disadvantages that it might bring along with it. One intelligent way to use print media is by using it as a tactical medium – set concrete objectives as to what you desire the reach and impact to be and employ a series of insertion. Adopting a purely tactical approach by target marketing and placing ads in publications that cater to your TG segment will surely help drive leads and sales. There are many other ways to employ print effectively, but we’ll leave that for a longer conversation.

Radio – Radio advertising has numerous advantages – it lets you target a narrow audience and reach your TG wherever they go. But, that may not be enough to make a marketing decision.

The diversity in the types of radio channels that we have today allows you to target your message to the specific target audience and that too at a comparatively lower cost. Radio as a sole medium is efficient when marketing budgets are low and the need for frequency of message is high. You can choose specific radio channels based on your target market and reach them anywhere. What will make you stand out even in the clutter that people find on radio is, making your message creatively different and something that would stand out loud. A refreshing message in-turn helps you increase brand recall in the consumer’s mind.

However, radio attracts a user’s attention for a very short span of time. Exposed to only audio with no visual element accompanying it, there is only so much that the user can connect to. Also, radio is more of a passive medium, something that runs in the background. So, if you’re looking at conveying a complex message to your audience, radio may not be the way to go.

Outdoor – Outdoor advertising is often an overlooked advertising medium when brands get to devising their strategies. It is one of the mediums where users are exposed to the most creative advertising pieces if executed with an out of the box approach.

What sets outdoor advertising apart from all other medium is its very ability to create buzz for a brand with its infinite out – of – the – box prospects and avenues. With (practically) limitless creative avenues, outdoor is a great medium to create awareness for a brand.

The greatest disadvantage of outdoor, however, is the lack of ability to target the communication to a specific target audience. Considering the ease with which outdoor advertising can be over-looked and ignored by users, the costs involved in such communication is high.

Outdoor as a medium is best used to reinforce a brand message communicated via other mediums such as television/print or radio.


A communication strategy comprises of individual elements but is successful when all of them are planned in coherence with each other. Foolish evaluates each medium and devises a strategy that makes the best use of each of their advantages.

We, at Foolish adopt a 2 – tiered approach to building a communication strategy. The best way to narrow down on which medium to employ in a communication strategy is by narrowing down on 2 essential elements:

1. Communication objective –The intended goals of the advertising campaign should be evaluated to narrow down on the mediums you want to advertise on. Will the purpose of the communication be only to create awareness? Or do you want to project an image of your brand to the target audience? Advertising objectives can range right from instantly boosting sales to simply stimulating a want / desire.

These communication objectives are then tied back to what medium can help achieve your objective the soonest and most cost efficiently.

2. Cost per Contact for each medium – An advertising medium cannot be labeled expensive or cheap in isolation. A medium’s cost is best evaluated based on the cost per contact that you achieve, i.e. how much money was spent on a particular medium and how many members of your target audience did you reach. This also helps you decide which mediums to start with and how many mediums your budget permits while ensuring a campaign is efficiently delivered.

“Foolish” OUR WAY

Above the line as an advertising strategy is not a sum total of each of its medium’s advantages & disadvantages. At Foolish, we find the beauty of advertising techniques in exploring multiple permutations and combinations of different advertising medium. If you have set out to achieve a particular communication objective, we advocate the concept of exhausting a particular medium before exploring another medium. Foolish chooses advertising mediums for your brand based on your reach requirements and budget considerations in order to achieve your pre-decided objective.

We at Foolish, always love a challenge! When it comes to choosing advertising medium, any and every slight disadvantage that a medium brings with itself becomes a challenge for us that we like to take head on. Foolish plans a communication strategy in totality rather than weighing the pros and cons of each medium individually, after all what the consumer sees is a holistic message, rather than micro-messages. Not only do we consider the message to be communicated to the intended target audience, Foolish also gives you the best possible integrated communication strategy, even in restricted budgets. Each communication strategy comprises of a primary medium which will reach the largest part of your TG at the lowest CPC. In addition to this, we use a combination of supplementary media that acts as a catalyst to boost your message.

While individual advertising medium constitutes Above the Line advertising, Foolish doesn’t consider any one form of media measurement as a silver bullet, but just as an aid to collective judgment. It is the aggregate of all data & medium insights that are taken into account while evaluating the success of a communication plan. The process of choosing a medium is a step by step scientific process and not just estimations or guesswork of what might or might not work. And this is what sets us apart.