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Will Lintas overtake HTA?

By , agencyfaqs! | In | February 26, 2001
In Delhi it will, says Preet Bedi, director, Lowe Lintas & Partners. His optimism is based on some big-ticket recent acquisitions - including Coke, Alto, Wills Sport and CyberLG



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NEW DELHI

Lowe Lintas & Partners is set to overtake HTA in Delhi, says Preet Bedi, director at India's agency number 2. His optimism is based on the agency's big-ticket acquisitions over the past few months - including Coke, Maruti Alto, Wills Sport and CyberLG. According to his projections, Lowe Lintas, Delhi, will close its books in December 2001 with capitalised billings in the region of Rs 240 - Rs 250 crore, factoring in the Rs 35 crore worth of business it expects from Coke.

Bedi estimates that by this year-end, the Delhi branch of HTA will reach a billing figure of Rs 225 - Rs 230 crore. According to him, the pecking order in the city will be something like this. O&M will claim the third slot with around Rs 140 crore, followed by McCann Erickson with Rs 130 crore, FCB-Ulka with Rs 120 crore and Mudra with Rs 100 crore. "These are broad estimates, you must remember," he said. "By end 2001, Lowe Lintas, Delhi, will be about 80 per cent of the size of the Mumbai office," he said. The Mumbai branch hopes to close the year at Rs 310-Rs 315 crore.

This inference of Bedi gave Kamal Oberoi, senior vice-president and general manager, HTA, a good laugh. "We will be bigger than Lintas this year and next year and next. I can say that with conviction," he says. Though he refused to give any indication of what HTA Delhi's billing target for the year 2001 was, he added, "If they (Lintas) close at Rs 250 crore, we will be at Rs 250-plus. If they close at Rs 300 crore, we will be Rs 300-crore plus."

Oberoi has his own take on the pecking order. He said that Lintas will close at Rs 200 - Rs 225 crore in December 2001, McCann will be in the vicinity of Rs 200 crore, O&M at Rs 150-odd crore, FCB-Ulka at RS 130-Rs 150 crore, and Mudra at Rs 120 crore. His estimates were for the Delhi branches of the respective agencies only.

A little bit of sniffing around gave agencyfaqs! a glimpse of how each of the top six agency bosses rated the others in the city.

As it emerged, there were two strong contenders even for the second slot. Nikhil Nehru, president, McCann Erickson, scoffed at Lintas' braggadocio and said, "I estimate HTA will still be at the top with around Rs 250-275 crore, but we will surely give them a run for their money at number two. Lintas would follow us with Rs 220-Rs 240 crore, followed by O&M with Rs 140-Rs 150 crore, FCB-Ulka at Rs 125-Rs 130 crore and Mudra with around Rs 120 crore." And what makes him so confident? "Well, we haven't really gone to town with any of our recent gains. But we do handle most of the biggest spenders in Delhi. Nestle, Bacardi, Perfetti, Gillette, General Motors as well as Coca-Cola products like Kinley, Sprite, you name them…"

Achin Ganguli, director and Delhi head at O&M, didn't put a figure against each of the agencies but reiterated that HTA will be number one. He said the second spot would be a close call between O&M and Lintas, who would end the year in the Rs 140-Rs 150 crore region. McCann would be around Rs 110 crore, followed by FCB-Ulka and Mudra at Rs 100 - Rs 120 crore. While, there was no official response from FCB-Ulka, a top finance executive told agencyfaqs! that the agency has set itself a target of Rs 150 crore for the year January-December 2001.

Samit Sinha, executive vice-president, Mudra, Delhi, was very clear where the top six would stand at the end of the year. HTA will lead the show with Rs 350 crore, Lintas will follow with Rs 250 crore, followed by McCann with Rs 150 crore, O&M with Rs 120 crore, and FCB-Ulka with Rs 100 crore. He refused to give the target he's set for his branch as well as where it will stand in the pecking order.

agencyfaqs! then asked Rahul Kansal, deputy managing director, Leo Burnett, to give "an independent perspective". Kansal said he'd done "a ranking of Delhi agencies for a presentation recently", and added "HTA will retain its top spot with Rs 230 crore, Lintas will follow with Rs 180 crore, McCann will be at the third position with Rs 150 crore, then there will be a tough call between FCB-Ulka and Mudra for the fourth slot. They will be in the Rs 125-Rs 130 region, followed by O&M at Rs 120 crore."

"Wait and watch" is the watchword here.

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