Below-the-Line Marketing


Below-the-line marketing is a term that has historically been used in reference to marketing activities that are relatively targeted and focused to specific groups of people that closely ties to sales and trade plans. Examples include point-of-purchase display materials, product sampling, or a direct telemarketing campaign targeting specific businesses.

While this type of activity may over time reinforce or grow the strength of the related brand, the near-term goal of this type of marketing tends to be skewed toward immediate purchase and trial. In practice, given the evolution of the media landscape and the emergence of technology-driven marketing activities, the historical distinction between Above-the-Line and Below-the-Line Marketing has become blurred to a point that practitioners may avoid these terms entirely, largely to avoid confusion, in favor of other more relevant terminology.

This use of the term ‘Below the Line’ (and its counterpart ‘Above the Line’) came into existence in 1954 within the Proctor and Gamble company to denote traditional advertising activities – television, radio, printed media, outdoor, movie theatre ads – paid through advertising agencies (ATL) and promotional activities – sampling, discount programs, sweepstakes, sponsorships – paid directly or through other intermediaries (BTL). The term arose spontaneously as only the traditional advertisement costs were included in the draft budget forcing employees to draw a line below these costs and write in the costs of promotional activities. [1,2]



  1. Michael John Baker & Susan J. Hart The Marketing Book pages 424 – 467 Butterworth-Heinemann 2008
  2. Marijana Sehovic, Mirjana Dudkovic, Jelena Mladenovic The Effectiveness of ATL and BTL Advertising Techniques pgs 1134-1135 in Proceedings of the XIV International Symposium SYMORG 2014

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