NEW DELHI, December 4
The Rs 24-crore Foster's India Ltd - the Indian subsidiary of the Australian $2,800-million Foster's Brewing Group - has awarded its advertising account to TBWA Anthem, Mumbai, following a six-agency, multi-level pitch that took place in end October. The beverage major officially appointed TBWA Anthem as its advertising agency two weeks ago.
"We have been entrusted the entire Foster's beer business," said Kurien Mathews, regional director, west, TBWA Anthem. "We shall be handling all the media and non-media communication for the client." The account has moved to TBWA Anthem from O&M, Mumbai, which had been servicing Foster's for the past two years. According to unconfirmed reports, O&M was defending the account in the pitch, while Euro RSCG and Mudra Communications were also in the fray. The identity of the other two agencies is not known.
Foster's has, in a short span of two years, won a lot of recall among Indian audiences, largely due to its insanely funny 'How to speak Australian…' campaign. Interestingly, this campaign was made exclusively for the US market, but was aired in India as it was found to be relevant in the Indian context. In India, O&M had essentially been involved in tactical and below-the-line activity for the brand. Incidentally, although TBWA Anthem has won the mainline advertising, events and interactive accounts, Foster's India has retained the services of Ogilvy Public Relations.
When asked what is likely to have swung the account Anthem's way, Kurien replied, "During the pitch, the client was looking at how well the agencies understood the brand situation and the implication of communicating in a regulated scenario. Our thinking was obviously appreciated." For Anthem, the biggest challenge undoubtedly lies in building the brand at a time when the government has clamped down on liquor advertising on television.
And although Kurien is optimistic that the laws will be suitably amended to permit liquor advertising on TV, he believes that non-media will play a vital role in Foster's advertising. "Once the laws change, we shall advertise Foster's by adhering to the guidelines. However, as Foster's is against getting into surrogate advertising, a lot of non-media communication will take place."
Foster's India's decision to appoint TBWA Anthem coincides with its decision to expand its presence in India. The company, which had till now been operating in Maharashtra and the adjacent states of Goa, Daman and Diu, is looking to expand its consumer base to other states. And in keeping with its newfound aggression, Foster's India has also decided to launch its international brands, Foster's Alen and Foster's Pilsner, in India in the near future.
Kurien acknowledges TBWA Anthem has its task cut out. "Foster's is the largest-selling foreign beer brand in Maharashtra. Our job will be to ensure that Foster's repeats this in all the other markets it gets into," he says.
Not as easy as it sounds. United Breweries straddles the 70-million-cases-per-annum domestic beer market with a market share of 33 per cent, while Shaw Wallace has 15 per cent of the pie. And in almost every state, region-specific brands have a loyal following. Growth rate too is erratic and differs from state to state. For instance, in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, the market is growing at a rate of 10 per cent. But in states such as Maharashtra and Goa, high taxes are stunting growth.
For the time being, of course, TBWA Anthem is all smiles. And why not! "We're high on beer," Kurien smiles, without revealing the size of the account. "We have added one of the world's greatest beer brands to our portfolio. And that we did so by competing with some of the best agencies around makes it feel really good." Cheers!
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