Marketing Below The Line vs Above The Line Advertising + Examples

May 3, 2023
3 minute read


Every business needs to market itself, regardless of how successful it is. The question is, do you market above the line, or below the line? 

In this blog, we’ll define above-the-line and below-the-line marketing, explain the differences between the two, and detail the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Ready? Let’s get this down to a science.


What is above-the-line marketing?

Marketing above the line, also known as ATL advertising, refers to marketing that:

  • Has mass reach
  • Is non-targeted
  • Is usually unmeasurable
  • Is conducted over public channels, like TV, radio, and billboards

The goal of marketing above the line is to increase brand awareness and gain new customers. It is not usually directed at a certain group, but rather advertised to the general public.

As you can imagine, above-the-line marketing is expensive. Just as an example, the cost of a 30-second commercial slot at 2022’s Super Bowl was $6.5 million!


What is below-the-line marketing?

BTL in marketing is:

  • More toned down than ATL
  • Targeted at certain customers
  • Measurable 
  • Conducted over channels such as through-the-door flyers, driving website traffic, sponsorship, or in-store marketing.

Marketing below the line aims to develop customer loyalty with customers already near the bottom of the marketing funnel, i.e., more ready to convert.

What to Choose: Pros & Cons of ATL & BTL Advertising

Benefits of Marketing Above the Line 

ATL is fantastic for:

  • Reaching a wide audience
  • Raising brand awareness
  • Grabbing attention


Disadvantages of Marketing Above the Line

On the flip side, ATL marketing is:

  • Very expensive
  • Extremely difficult to measure success

Benefits of BTL in Marketing

BTL marketing works well for:

  • Building positive relationships
  • Measuring marketing results
  • Focusing on particular groups


Disadvantages of BTL Marketing

The limitations of BTL are:

  • Limited reach
  • Not as immediately impactful as atl

So… what’s the conclusion? Which types of marketing should you go for?

The answer to the above line vs below the line marketing question depends on a) your budget and b) your type of business. If your business targets a very specific clientele, like parents of newborn babies with colic, marketing above the line can largely be a waste of time. You'd be better off putting ads in doctors' offices or newspapers for new Moms. For a company like Colgate however, targeting the population at large with ATL would make a lot of sense, as the general population has a need for toothpaste. 

Most businesses benefit from creating a media mix of both ATL and BTL marketing which is known as TTL advertising, or through-the-line marketing. The main thing is to keep the message and brand voice consistent in all forms of marketing.

Examples of ATL and BTL Marketing


Above-the-line marketing

Who hasn’t heard of Red Bull? This company markets above the line to the extreme. 

Take their crazy extreme sports stunts as just one example. Remember when they sent a man 128,000 ft in the air in a small ship and helium balloon? And had him do a free fall out of it? What became known as the Red Bull Stratos Jump, broke two world records.

Then there are Nike’s ATL marketing videos. For example their video of Matt Scott, a wheelchair basketball player listing all the excuses people may have not to go out and do sports, which pushes people to buy Nike gear and go out and play. 


Below-the-line marketing

Cereal boxes are a great example of BTL marketing. EVERY cereal box is practically covered in marketing front to back, and all around. Whether it’s a slogan like Weetabix’s ‘Have you had yours?’, or a cartoon on a sugary cereal box that beckons to children, cereal boxes always have some kind of marketing strategy associated with them.

Another example: have you noticed recently, a lot of clothes come with labels saying ‘made with 100% recycled plastic bottles’, or something along those lines? This low-key advertising attracts people who believe in sustainability.

How can Workamajig help you with both below-that-line and above-the-line marketing?

Workamajig’s robust project management software, the only software built specially for creative teams allows its users to power through their marketing processes in the following ways:

  • Workamajig's CRM & Sales Software for Marketing Agencies gets all marketing data in one place.

  • Stop opportunities from falling through the cracks... and all while better predicting your future revenue and resourcing needs.
  • Easy convert leads into contact & company records with full conversation history
  • Get full pipeline visibility & see opportunities by stage, status & probability to close
  • Set goals for the team & track performance against target revenue



With Workamajig, you get accurate estimates and bigger wins.

  • Easily move a contact through your entire sales workflow, from start to finish.
  • Send estimates from your project templates,  or create one from scratch including hours, labor, expenses & more
  • Get approval, create a live project, and have everything ready for the project manager
  • ... all from Workamajig's sales dashboard. 


Your fully-integrated sales solution. Get the best CRM for marketing agencies!

Sales Dashboard: Get a complete overview of your pipeline & spot opportunities needing attention

Email integration: Record all sent and received emails from contacts & never miss any communication

Calendar integration: Sync your Outlook, Google, or iCal Calendar in Workamajig & keep everything in one place

Workamajig transforms the marketing capabilities of companies like yours in unbelievable ways.

See how Workamajig can do it for you too!

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