In a development that is bound to break incumbent Mudra Communications' heart, computer and peripherals manufacturer Hewlett-Packard India (HP) has decided that its communications business in the country will eventually move to Publicis India.
Ravi Raj Sagar, marcom manager, Hewlett-Packard India, told agencyfaqs! that the company has decided to move the account, but has not set any deadline for itself. "We are certainly moving the business, but it will happen in a phased manner, whereby both Publicis and Mudra have ample time to adjust to the situations that arise," Sagar revealed. He, however, did not reveal whether the entire Rs 20-crore account would go to Publicis. "We are taking certain parts of our business out of Mudra. But we are in no hurry, as we do not want to rush things and get into a tangle. Things like how much to move, when and in what phases are yet to be decided."
When asked about the current HP print campaign that bears Publicis' key number, Sagar replied that this is part of an international campaign devised at Publicis' headquarters, and released by Publicis' Singapore office. "Only the media planning was done in India - by Publicis," he said. Internationally, the Publicis Group (through its prime constituents Publicis and Saatchi & Saatchi) handles large parts of HP's advertising, and sometime during the end of 2000, the company had consolidated its media buying business with the Group.
It may be recalled that in August 2000, Mudra had won the HP business following a multi-agency pitch. The account had gone up for review when FCB-Ulka was forced to resign it, as globally, FCB had won Compaq. Interestingly, during the review, Publicis was one of the contenders, along with Lowe Lintas, Saatchi & Saatchi and Contract Advertising.
"During the review last August, we evaluated Publicis India too," said Sagar. "And although Publicis handles much of our advertising worldwide, we felt that in India, it did not have adequate ground-level support to take on a huge portfolio such as ours. So we opted for Mudra." However, Sagar feels that over the past six months, Publicis has strengthened itself considerably in Delhi. "That's why we are again considering the agency. After all, global alignments have to be respected."
It may also be recalled that in January this year, Praveen Kenneth, CEO, Publicis India, had emphatically denied a media report that said that Publicis India was on the verge of winning HP due to global realignment. At the same time, he had refused to comment on whether or not his agency plans to approach HP for a pitch.
In some ways, this movement was a foregone conclusion. In fact, when agencyfaqs! had got in touch with Mudra following the media report on Publicis winning HP, the official reply had been, "We have been told by the client that it is status quo, at least for the next three-four months."
Which means that the threat was always there. Only now, it's more real.
© 2001 agencyfaqs!