'We went wherever we could get a stadium': Sangeeta Sharma, Lufthansa

The senior manager, marketing and product explains the airline's second TVC in India, importance of this market and more...

Mar 29, 2017 04:57:00 AM | Video | Raahil Chopra

Lufthansa has rolled out a second TVC, part of its ‘More Indian than you think’ campaign. The film has been conceptualised by MRM//McCann India and Kolle Rebbe Germany and features a cricket team preparing for a visit to India. The coach tells his players that they have to think like Indians, eat like Indians and even dance like Indians as they look to acclimatise themselves before the tour. As the team gets ready to board a Lufthansa flight, the player asks his coach, shouldn’t they also fly like Indians. The player is in for a surprise, as he’s greeted in the flight with a ‘namaste’ and Indian food. 
We spoke to Sangeeta Sharma, senior manager, marketing and product, Lufthansa India for more about the campaign. Edited excerpts:
The first installment of this campaign was rolled out in 2014. How did it impact the airline?
Brand Lufthansa has had a strong position in the country for close to 60 years now. With the ‘More Indian than you think’ film, we wanted to extend that trust to an emotional level. The whole journey was led by Lufthansa’s first TVC which was aiming to get rid of some of the notions that come with a German brand. We’ve had Indian crew, food and entertainment for more than 20 years. But we took it for granted that our customers knew about it. Through the first film, we were trying to show the emotional side of the brand. We are dealing with people at the end of the day. 
We wanted to pay enough respect to the film through effort and time and ran it for three years. 
During those three years, we’ve had other marketing initiatives going on too, like the campaign during Diwali. This was the first ever digital campaign that was conceived in India and implemented by the Indian team. Eighty countries were part of this campaign and we were celebrating India. 
We’ve had other initiatives like Lufthansa ‘Cook and fly’ too. From celebrating Diwali to showcasing Indian culinary heritage to nurturing entrepreneurship, Lufthansa India’s campaigns have reflected the true Indian spirit. Over a period on three years we were able to successfully connect with Indians - not just in India, but across the globe.
All of these initiatives have helped the brand and the numbers. We have had a 13 per cent growth in terms of passengers since 2014.
Compared to all benchmarked carriers Lufthansa reaches the highest first choice rating (32 per cent for business and 29 per cent for leisure travellers)
More than 80 per cent of the target group with awareness of Lufthansa recognised the TV spot. Further, they mention content along the storyline of the TV spot.
What's the objective of this second film, part of the campaign?
This film shows how the world is trying to be like India. It exudes new energy and freshness. We have taken the creative freedom of using cricket as a vehicle. It speaks to everyone and cuts across demographics and age groups. It’s a part of our culture and tradition. The first film used the family, this one uses cricket. It reflects completely our thought of ‘soul of Germany with a heart of India’.
How can an airline get loyal customers in such a price commanding game? Is there something like a ‘premium’ airline left? Would you label Lufthansa as a premium airline?
We target everyone who travels and I think we are competitive in terms of pricing. There’s a premiumness involved with the brand, but we aren’t looking only at premium customers. 
We have never got into a price war. If someone gets a price down, we don’t follow. It’s not about carrying a passenger from point A to point B, it’s about how. 
Does Lufthansa have more country specific campaigns in other markets too?
Historically Lufthansa never had TVCs. India was the first country that got a regional TVC. It was released in Germany at the same time as India. China got one in September last year followed by the United States.
When we created our first film, we didn’t want it to be a regular, run of the mill film. It’s about storytelling, connecting and engaging with consumers. The response to this film has been absolutely heart-warming.
Where would India be ranked among Lufthansa's top markets?
Clearly from a marketing and volume point-of-view, India is in the top four markets. We have other strategic markets like China, Japan, USA and of-course Germany.
On the marketing front of view, India is clearly on top. We are the only country other than the US, that runs its own social media. We are running our own content and our even high on content rating and engagement ranking charts.
We in India are taking on other airlines’ global figures and that shows how big the market here is.
In the film, which team is warming up to a visit to India?
It’s just a metaphorical representation. We actually went wherever we could get a stadium. England was closer to Frankfurt  and we managed a stadium there. We couldn’t shoot in India because of the on-going cricket season.