Okay, so with great power comes great responsibility. Uncle Ben clearly never worked in an ad agency.
Even with the chindi powers of an account planner, there comes the responsibility of coming up with the wildest strategy ideas that the brand can accomodate. This brought me to an oft-used old school marketing technique that's been making a comeback in recent times - BTL, urf Below The Line.

See, there were these two sisters A and B. They were strippers at a club. A was the sleazy but slightly less beautiful one while B was extremely hot yet of a nicer nature. Owing to their personalities, their performances were far far different from each other. A always took centrestage, twisted the pole, held the entire crowd's attention. B on the other hand, was the lap dancer, keeping herself to private performances. Since A was right on the stage, she got a lot of tips from the entire crowd, but she could never tell how much she'd get, but it pleased everyone, so it pleased her as well, the voyeur that she was. B, on the other hand, earned great amounts from her regulars, pleasing them with undivided personal attention to each of them. Although she handled lesser numbers, her engagement was much much more than A could ever manage.
And that is what ATL and BTL are all about.
ATL, Above The Line, is all glamour. It's about reaching out to the masses through public media with a message that creates or reinforces brand communications. But there's no direct consumer involvement. You can't touch ATL.
BTL, Below The Line, is a more down-to-earth, hands-on approach that is more direct and establishes a relationship of the brand with individual consumers.

So, here are five of the most amazing BTL campaigns and brand activations that have caught the attention and admiration of their target audiences worldwide:

1. Smart E-BALL

Electric cars are not really all that attractive. Their tech is quite nascent, they have very less power and accelerate oh-so-slowly! To prove all of these conceptions wrong, promoters of the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive set up an activation on the streets to showcase the car's surprisingly powerful acceleration.
They created a live digital version of the classic game of Pong and mapped two Smart cars to drive back and forth to act as the paddles. 
The result? Instant crowd engagement that gave the potential buyer an opportunity to test drive the cars and get a real feel of it.
Check out this cool video case study for all the details!

2. Project Glass - Google

Google has always been the forerunner in coming up with innovative technology and dishing it out for the world to experience. Project Glass by Google let the futurist in us get a glimpse into the kind of tech they've been developing and we've been dreaming of. With a POV video that went surprisingly viral, Project Glass received immense attention and captured everyone's imagination of a future where everything we see is just that much more.
The Google Plus page for this project keeps posting updates on the progress of this device. Check out the video and marvel at the possibilities of this piece of tech!

3. 3M Scotch Brite - Wash Your Bill

How many times have you wanted to eat and eat and eat, and not pay the bill? Always right? Well, Scotch brite came up with a cool innovative campaign that I personally would love to see implemented at a restaurant near me. 
Don't want to pay your bill? Do the dishes.
Simple. Smart. Punny. And HIGHLY effective.
All it needed was a restaurant's co-operation and a few willing social media addicts to make this a fun cool way for Scotch Brite to reach out to an audience that barely even connected with it.

4. Andes - The Great Escape!

Everyone needs a rescue! Especially those of us who are stuck in a drab theatre performance, a boring anniversary dinner or just plain stuck. Andes beer decided to don the cape of rescue rangers and designed a fascinatingly elaborate campaign to rescue unwilling attenders of functions and take them to a much more conducive location of their choice - A bar with all their friends in it!
Run over a span of two months, this is one heck of a campaign that would make anyone an instant fan of their beer!
The way to do it? Just a few clicks on Facebook!

5. Heineken QR Sticker Festival

One more beer activation, just coz all beer companies are that much cooler! ;) 
QR codes haven't been around for too long, but they're catching on, and fast! It's fast, easy and free to generate. Couple that with a HUGE concert and youngsters willing to meet new people, Heineken came up with this great new way to meet someone at a Polish summer festival. They generated custom QR codes carrying whacky and cool personalized messages, printed them out on stickers to be stuck anywhere on the person's body and which others may scan, giving them a completely new way to break the ice.
What resulted during the 4 day festival, they printed a massive number of stickers and helped people "Open up their world!"

Done right, activations make great fans out of the consumers, if not loyalists. Current companies, especially technology and FMCGs are slowly realizing that fact and betting more and more on BTL activities to promote themselves.With such awesome innovations already out there and crazy minds constantly working with huge budgets just to beat the competition to it, who knows what might come our way each day that we walk down the street?

S, over and out.

I was born and brought up in Mumbai, the most cosmopolitan, metropolitan (and many more litans) city in this country. There's no one single language or religion or race or caste that forms too large a majority here. It's a melting pot, an amalgamation of a brilliant array of socio-cultural people living in harmony (and occasional disharmony) with each other.
When I was growing up, I was this typical "Bong boy" - Oily side-parted hair, spectacles on the nose, a slight pot-belly and an inherent love for maach-bhaat (Fish and rice). Somewhere while going from a four-foot something to a six-foot something (stop sniggering will you!) I kind of lost touch with my inner bangali babu. It's only in recent years that I rediscovered the bengali inside me and come to terms with the fact that there's no escaping it.
Like all self-respecting Bongs, I love an intellectual conversation over coffee, endearingly called as adda by the Kolkata kakushona across the street. I have a penchant for numbers. Maths was my favourite subject in school. I'm kind of nerdy too, loving my daily dose of literature (from Crichton's technical details to Tolkien's intricate worlds to Rowling's divinations to Gardner's number games) I just can't do without a few pages a day at the very least! Right after lunch I shall feel the effects of bhaat-ghoom (The urge for an after-rice siesta). I totally reserve the right to say "Eeeesh!" at everything that disgusts, repels, excites, fascinates, shocks or even surprises me; and absolutely no one can do a drunk, "Paro!" like I do! 

But the one thing I absolutely and completely identify with as a Bengali stereotype is our love for food! I absolutely LOVE to eat. That's one trait I shall always thank the Bengali community for! I think the HIPPO chips ads were inspired from a Bengali! Hippo fight Hunger it seems! Being a foodie is what being bong is totally about to me. I mean, what can be better than a plateful of macher-jhol or a potful of mishti-doi when you sit to dine?
The single biggest thing that any Bengali event revolves around is FOOD! Be it a wedding or festival celebrations or just a simple family get-together, the first thing that your maashi (aunt) will ask when she enters the house will be, "Oooooooo! (in that pitch, tone and voice that you heard in your head right now), Great smell! What are you cooking??" And with that all the women of the house will make a beeline for the kitchen where my mother dearest will proceed to explain in detail how, what and how much of each dish she's cooking. Oh and also, offers of assisting and vigorous denials can be heard from the kitchen amidst the din that comes out of having a large congregation of Bengali mohila (ladies) at one confined place with food.

I've grown up loving food and watching food shows like Masterchef and Hell's Kitchen and even our own beloved Khaana Khazana, asking mother to cook something out of it. My mum's an amazing cook too! She can cook pretty much everything from plain daal-bhaat to a mean meat steak! Our family trips in my childhood and almost every other trip I've been on after that has always revolved around getting to the best places to eat, wherever I went. Nothing makes me happier than to dig into a delectable piece of cooked meal; I'm happier when someone else shows the same appreciation I do for the same food. The way to my heart goes right through my palate and there's no two ways about it!

So if you meet me on the street, or just for a casual snack, beware that the Bong in me will make sure you end up with a full stomach by the time we depart. Coz even though we might not be the best off-topic conversationalists, we sure do know how to cover that up with a good meal!

Cheers, and from our favourite new-gen Bengali anti-hero, Nomoshkar! ;)