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upGrad to spend Rs 100 crore on marketing annually

The online education platform for professionals has decided not to spend too much on print and radio advertising but focus on targeted marketing and advertising on TV and digital

upGrad, the online education and skill development platform for professionals, may end up becoming the largest advertiser from the education segment as the company has earmarked Rs 100 crore as its annual marketing and advertising budget. The company, however, will go slow on its spending on print and radio as TV and digital will be the mainstay of its campaign.

Mayank Kumar

Mayank Kumar, Co-founder and Managing Director, upGrad, told that the company, through its campaign that has Bollywood actor Vicky Kaushal as the brand ambassador, is looking to target senior managers from the field of technology/management, tech leads, managers, software developers, project managers, analysts working in IT services, IT consulting, computing, enterprise software, telecommunications and computer software in the age groups of 25-34 years and 35-44 years.

Online education for professionals is still at a nascent stage in India. “Hence the task at hand now is to create awareness at a category level. Hence, the necessity of a commercial that will change the consumer mindset and create awareness,” said Kumar.

Apart from the traditional offline teaching colleges, upGrad is competing against the likes of Coursera, Udacity, Jigsaw Academy, Simplilearn, Udemy and Edureka.

upGrad’s campaign is intended to present the brand and its unique Online Power Learning approach to consumers. The campaign consists of two sets of communication units. The first demonstrates the influence of the brand and the role it can play in the consumer’s life by giving them the opportunity to transform their careers. The film breaks the myth of online education being ineffective. It showcases how impactful the online education space is today and how it is as good as traditional offline education.

The second set of creatives are intended to jolt the consumers out of their inertia, where they feel that they do not need to go back to learning once they have a job, and establish the need to learn and upskill themselves for a better career and not to blame anyone else.

“While most  brands today focus on functional deliveries like providing access to reputed institutes, price or convenience of learning online, upGrad is positioned as a brand that plays a larger role in their lives by acting as an engine of transformation, which gives them the ability to put their careers on a high growth trajectory,” Kumar said.

The brand does this through a robust delivery system — the Online Power Learning model, which constitutes of faculty and association with top academic institutes, strong industry interface for course relevance projects, mentoring, personalised attention and hand-holding and career support.

Through their marketing efforts, upGrad wants to establish that there is a new way to learn today. Education does not stop after college and the dynamic career environment today calls for dynamic learning and upskilling for professionals who want to be successful.

Kumar added, “Our advertising is targeted at dialling up this requirement of learning and upskilling and presents upGrad as the definitive way to do that. The communication presents how upGrad has added substance to online learning through its unique Online Power Learning model that offers robust and effective learning suited to the requirement of the working professional.”

What made them pick Vicky Kaushal as brand ambassador? “The casting was done keeping in mind that the protagonist should be someone believable, with whom the audience will be able to connect. We wanted a real, yet recognisable face, who can deliver the message to our target group. In addition, Vicky Kaushal’s background in engineering education relates well with our TG,” he said.

The campaign has been created by Lowe Lintas. Sagar Kapoor, Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas, added, “It was an excellent briefing session by the founders that led our creative thinking at upGrad. The vibe was positive and the brief actually spoke about what upGrad can do to lives rather than just what upGrad is and how continuous learning can make sure one keeps navigating his or her career forward. Inspiring stories of how lakhs have already done this successfully spurred us further. All that said the team believed in keeping the message and tone of the communication sprightly and involving. Hence the idea of ‘Life ko karo lift’!”

Out of the Rs 100 crore that upGrad plans to spend on marketing for this campaign, the brand is focusing on TV and digital only. “However, in the past (FY18-19), we have explored radio, print, on-ground activations in corporate parks. And yes, social media advertising is quite relevant for us, as it has been a strong revenue generator for us,” says Kumar.

upGrad’s data science courses are its largest vertical, contributing to 70% of its revenue. upGrad data shows the highest student enrolment from South (51%), followed by West (22%), North (17%) and East(10%).

upGrad was founded in early 2015 by Ronnie Screwvala, Mayank Kumar, Phalgun Kompalli and Ravijot Chugh.

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