Interview: We use Digital to compliment our TV campaigns: Kedar Apte, Castrol India

Kedar Apte

Kedar Apte, Vice President Marketing, Castrol India talks about branded content dynamics, creating content for social media, sports marketing, and more. 

Helming the position of Vice President Marketing at Castrol India since 2016, he has played a pivotal role in bringing in smart technology combined with great innovation and driving social campaigns like ‘Protect What You Love’. 

As a part of it’s ATL activity last year, Castrol visited Delhi, Chennai, and Ahmedabad—and teamed up with the youth in cleaning up filthy areas.  Titled ‘Beach‘ the campaign was deep-rooted in the consumer insight of ‘protecting what is precious’ that resonated the belief of today’s young audiences in India who are seeking to drive positive change. 

In conversation with Social Samosa, Kedar Apte, also a member of the Indian Agency Awards Jury Panel, shares key insights on sports marketing and what it takes to be relevant and conversational on social media.


Having worked with B2C and B2B brands, how do you think the marketing dynamics/strategy differ?

I think the basics of marketing remain the same in B2C as well as B2B. But while in B2C, the customer journey is fairly linear, in B2B, it is more complex and there are multiple influencers.

At Castrol, how do you make sure that the brand reaches out to the end consumers, in this screen oriented world?  

We at Castrol understand the customer journey well. We use a variety of techniques to reach to end consumers. TV still remains our lead medium and we use Digital to compliment our TV campaigns. We have Social communities on Biking and Cricket, which we use as a passion point to reach consumers.

Mechanics are doctors of the vehicles and we also have campaigns in place such as Castrol super mechanic and Garage Guru (first TV show featuring mechanics as heroes) which recognize the skill of mechanics and make them heroes.

Castrol has tried its hands on branded content with properties such as Girl in the City. How has the association helped the brand? In terms of branded content, what are the parameters you use to measure the performance of the campaign?

Yes, we have made several branded content. Girl in the City was a story of a young woman who comes from a small town to a metro city to realize her dreams with her scooter being her ally in her journey. This was a great plot to promote Castrol Activ Scooter, our customized offering for gearless scooters.

We are also running a branded content series – Castrol Activ Champions on a popular sports website where our brand ambassador Harsha Bhogle talks about stories of some champion cricketers, drawing parallels with Castrol Activ, the champion for your bikes.

While we have input KPIs in terms of views, impressions, we also do extensive research to understand how these campaigns are shaping up perceptions about the brand.

  • Between creating original content by the brand and working with content creators, what do you think pays off in the long run? What parameters should brands keep in mind before taking this decision?
  • I think making Content is a very specialized job and it best left to experts. When we look at creating content, we always look for the right partners who have the capability to do so. I think what is important that there has to be a strong link between the ethos of the brand and content so that the brand is weaved seamlessly. When we agree to make any branded content, the role played by the brand is the most critical element that needs to be aligned. Else, we get brand integrations that do not appear credible and end up doing harm to the brand

As a jury of Indian Agency Awards, what are your expectations from the agencies that are participating?

I have been a part of the jury of several other awards, and what I look for is how the campaigns have delivered on brand objectives. While I enjoy watching ‘creativity at work’, effectiveness is more important. Also while judging the best agencies, I would also seek an understanding of whether the agencies are truly partnering clients rather than delivering on a campaign to campaign basis.

Lubricants could be termed as B2B in nature. What kind of content hooks do you use on social media, to stay relevant and conversational for your audience?

If you speak to some young bikers/car enthusiasts or even farmers, you may realize their passion for their vehicle and maintenance of the vehicles. As a result, while the role of influencers is high, the end consumers also play a key role in the choice of lubricants.

We always maintain a strong connection with consumers. Today’s youth always stand for what they believe it and we have done strong purpose-driven marketing for our brands. For instance, last year, we wanted to be a catalyst for positive change and in our TVC, we had a bunch of passionate bikers cleaning a beach. Taking the TVC into reality, We also cleaned up some places in several cities to convert these into cricket playing areas with help of communities. I believe that the brands can build strong consumer loyalty if consumers can relate to the brand and what it is communicating.

Also Read: A powerful story needs the right distribution network: Pallavi Singh, MG Motor India

For our truck brand, Castrol CRB Turbo, realizing the health issues that truckers have due to continuous driving, we created customized yoga asanas, called Truck Aasana that can be done before / after or during a break. This is an attempt to take care of the health of truckers, in addition to taking care of the health of their trucks.

Sports marketing has acquired a whole new meaning with the rising popularity of cricket as well as non-cricket properties. With a number of sports properties lined up for 2019, does Castrol plan to leverage the same? Please take us through your strategy.

Sport is an integral part of the lives of our consumers and we use the platform of sports effectively to talk about our brands.

Apart from Motorsports, we have been associated with cricket, football and also with Kabaddi in more recent times.

We ensure we use the context of the sport to talk about the proposition of our brand.

For example, T20 cricket is very different than one day cricket and requires different skills. We used this context to talk about how gearless scooters are different than bikes and the need for a customized engine oil – Castrol Activ Scooter.

Kabaddi is a contact sport and we used this effectively to draw parallel with Castrol Activ’s Actibonds that cling to the engine all the time. We also use some of these events to land the brand proposition with customers. For instance, we took some customers for a pitstop experience in a motorsports event where they saw high-performance Castrol lubricants in use. Can there be a better proof point!

Please share the brand’s marketing strategy for 2019. Do you have any specific budgets set aside for upcoming events like IPL 12, World Cup, and General Elections?

Yes, 2019 promises to be exciting with World Cup and General Elections. Getting the attention of the consumers in this environment is going to be doubly difficult and we are ready with our plans to connect with consumers keeping these themes in mind.