Interview: Digital consists 16-18% of our total spends: Rahul Pansare, FCA India

Rahul Pansare

Rahul Pansare, Head, Marketing Communications & PR, FCA India Automobiles Private Limited shares his thoughts on the brand journey and Jeep India’s digital media strategy. 

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brought its 75-year old brand- Jeep- in India in 2016 and leveraged PM Narendra Modi’s #MakeInIndia initiative to launch Jeep Compass last year which struck a right chord with the audience. Since then, a lot has transpired.

We get talking to Rahul Pansare, Head, Marketing Communications & PR, FCA India Automobiles Private Limited to know more about how the hashtag #MakeInIndia made Jeep Compass a huge hit and how the brand utilizes digital media and much more.


Firstly, how has the journey of Jeep India been since its India launch in February 2016?

When we entered with Jeep in India, the key challenge that we had was that Jeep in India was a generic name and here there was a brand which was coming to India with highly premium cars. Due to the excise duty, the prices had soared. We were still looking for network partners because Compass was still a year away.

We had very high brand awareness because people know Jeep as the SUV Jeep, but they didn’t know Jeep as an American brand and also what product lineups we had.  The key challenge for us was how do we create and establish awareness as well as similarity for the brand. Since 2016 to now 2018 – the CBU launches and network developments and the one year of Compass that has gone by – now people know what Jeep is all about and we have crossed that bridge. Throughout the 8 year journey, on TV and outdoor what we have done, digital and social media has played a very important role.

Jeep India bet big on #MadeInIndia when it launched Jeep Compass. A lot of buzz was created through social media. How do you view ‘the leveraging of social media as an important factor in taking the conversations’ ahead and to a larger base?  

The #MakeInIndia movement was already very talked about and buzzed on social media, thanks to PM Modi’s initiative and thought process. Fortunately, we were also a part of it in some or the other way. While that was happening, Compass was already getting designed and a lot of localization was already in place. I think what helped us in terms of social, every campaign or launch we do the first step is social. We go about releasing a teaser first on our website, social media platforms, have a digital share of voice and then go into the mainline advertising.  The icing on the cake was basically  Compass which was made in India was also exported to the first world countries like Japan, UK etc. which was never done before. I think that was something which people really noticed and the same compass which is made in India and made by the Indian engineer is now been driven on the roads overseas which also puts a lot of pride factor into Make In India and the quality that India can deliver.

Please share the kind of exposure and benefits that Auto Expo gives to automobile brands and the reason for their rising popularity?

I have spent around 10-12 years in the auto industry and been to these expos. Over a period of time, the interest in the national auto expos have gone down. It has started happening in small towns which are done by local publications or local event agencies – they have started gaining more traction.  What has happened is, thanks to the digital world, people have all the information now about a car, specifications, the design is out on social media already. People don’t have to go to an auto expo and wait for the big announcement. Particularly if you see the auto expo that happened this year then what happened in Delhi,m most of the brands were absent. Now, since the world has become digital and all the information is available on your phone at your fingertips, you don’t have to wait for a big event like that to see the car.

Your take on growing importance for Content Marketing and Influencer Marketing for Automobile Brands? As a Brand, has Jeep India invested in Influencer Marketing?

Content is huge for us. We believe that Content is the King. If your content is right, people will interact with you and it will have positive conversations around the brand definitely.  We’ve released more than 29-30 pieces of content so far and on different topics right from how the Compass was made in India and even on our ten thousand bookings. Also, there is a lot of user-generated content where people from the Jeep community upload their own stories. UGC is more valuable and more important to us than the content that we do because that’s authentic that is straight-away coming from people that are expressing the product.

Influencer-marketing is gaining a lot of traction and we are also doing it in a very small way though. But I think going forward in the coming quarter and in 2019 we will be using influencers in a big way.

Insight behind ‘My Jeep Story’ campaign? 

‘My Jeep story’ is a global platform wherein it has already been executed in US and other markets which are very matured Jeep markets. Over there, Jeep is already a cult brand, it’s been there for more than 70 years now.

When we launched Jeep 2 years back and Compass 1 year back, with the CBUs, the Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee, the volumes were not that high but with Compass, we’ve sold more than 26,000 cars. We have 26,000 users who are using the Jeep Compass every day. When we thought about doing ‘My Jeep’ story, I think my first reaction was we will do it slightly later because people drive the compass, experience the car and then give their story. Fortunately what we noticed was even if we did not initiate ‘My Jeep’ story customers had already started doing it. Customers were taking their car to Leh- Ladakh and Manali and other nice locations and started posting it on Facebook. Multiple WhatsApp groups were created consisting of Jeep owners. 

Even today as we speak there are active, more than 14-15 Jeep Compass owners’ groups in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Western wanderers in the West. As of now, we have a plan of doing around 6-8 My Jeep stories content. It’ll continue as a series till 2019.

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How do you ensure that the online engagement gets translated into offline sales?

I think it’s the quality of content that we put up. Firstly, when we launched Compass, the excitement was very high. We released the making of the Compass videos with Milind Soman. The engagement rate for certain videos was as high as 38% which was never seen before. Plus the organic reach and number of views that we used to get were very high. I think what really works is the content that you are putting out is relevant to the audiences and being more topical, then people do interact with the content, that gives us a lead.

How do you measure the ROI on Social Media Marketing for Jeep India? (What are the metrics you follow)

On social media what we measure is how many people are engaging with the content that we put up – the engagement rate. If it’s a video content the CPV (Cost per view) and the number of video views come in. Additionally, there is a very detailed metrics that we and our agency follow because everything that we do at the end of the day has to result into business. If somebody is watching video content than it has to get translated in web visit, book a test drive or download a brochure. Fortunately now Facebook also allows you to directly book a test drive. It’s much easier to measure ROI and get effectiveness on digital mediums compared to others.

Which social media platform has benefited the most for Jeep?

Facebook has contributed very high in terms of engagement and leads followed by Google search and other Google platforms.

Jeep India’s Marketing Mix is like? What share of the overall marketing pie do each medium occupy?

We are more heavy on Television followed by print and also have a focused outdoor strategy. Digital consists 16-18% of our total spends.

Please share some tips on the use of Social Media for digital businesses and brands planning to do big on the platform?

What Facebook is doing is quite exciting, I am still looking at other platforms to come at par with what it and give us those kinds of opportunities to generate more awareness and consideration for the brand. Facebook has grown and explored a lot of new formats,  but the other mediums also need to probably catch up and give marketeers equal opportunity to reach out to more people and higher engagement.