JK Tyre recently launched a new campaign, #DistanceOKPlease to spread awareness about social distancing, drawing inspiration from Truck Shayaris. Srinivasu Allaphan, Director-Sales & Marketing, JK Tyre & Industries tells us more about their latest campaign, postponing campaigns and product launches and Digital becoming the go to media. What was the insight behind your latest campaign, #DistanceOKPlease? In times like these, it is critical for brands to act responsibly and leverage their existing resources to support the efforts of the government. We know that the citizens are anxious about the ongoing situation and every brand is trying to reach out to them over just one medium – digital. In such a scenario, our aim was to create a light-hearted and vibrant campaign that breaks the information clutter to create awareness among the audiences. People enjoy Truck Shayaris and we used it as a medium to spread awareness about the importance of staying at home during the lockdown period. With this particular campaign, what is your objective in terms of qualitative and quantitative benefits for the brand? We are dealing with a global crisis currently and our only objective is stay relevant for our audiences. We didn’t want to push any business centric narrative, yet strengthen our positioning as a young brand. We chose to go forth with light-hearted quotes and unconventional colour schemes to step out from the mainstream and effectively send out a message about social distancing. The on-going pandemic has impacted all sectors and businesses. What is JK Tyre doing to cope with this situation? Yes, most of the industries have been affected by COVID-19 and there is going to be an impact on sales and profitability in the coming quarters. In such a scenario, it becomes critical for organizations to manage the existing resources effectively, to ensure that business plans are not impacted greatly. Moreover, it is important to engage with internal as well as external stakeholders, not only to empathise with them, but also to help them come out of the situation. Tell us how you’ve had to re-look at and revise your marketing approach during this difficult time? Every brand has set marketing objectives for the year and for us, it was to further strengthen our positioning as a premium brand, for which we have new campaigns and product launches lined-up. However, we have pushed these till the latter half of the year until normalcy returns and market sentiment picks-up. Right now, digital is the go to medium for audiences and we are using it to stay relevant to our customers. Tyres is an intrinsic part of the auto sector which has been in a downturn for quite a while. How have JK Tyre and the industry weathered this phase? What are the challenges facing JK Tyre as well as the sector? Yes, the automotive industry was passing through one of its most severe spells of slowdown. With COVID-19, the situation has aggravated further, thereby, pushing recovery estimates by a few quarters. Tyre is a critical allied industry and shares the same sentiment. Before the pandemic emerged, we did try to neutralize the impact of slowdown by focusing on exports and replacement markets. But now, the situation has changed drastically. What are the plans for the company looking ahead? We are passing through uncertain times, but we are cautiously optimistic of a sentiment lift around the second half of the year. Till then, we will work towards equipping our internal machinery and our distribution network to cater to the pent-up demand.