Capital pockets Escotel's post-paid business

By , agencyfaqs! | In | April 13, 2001
Capital Advertising has won the Rs 3-crore advertising account of Escotel's post-paid brand, SmartPhone Service. The account moves from Leo Burnett

Cellular operator Escotel has awarded the advertising account of its post-paid business to Capital Advertising, Delhi. The Rs 3-crore account, which was previously with Leo Burnett, went up for review some three weeks ago. It is believed that in all, five agencies pitched for the business - Saatchi & Saatchi, RK Swamy/BBDO, Enterprise Nexus, Bates India and Capital. The account came Capital's way the week before last.

Speaking to agencyfaqs!, Sunil Sachdeva, director, Capital Advertising, said, "We won Escotel's post-paid brand, SmartPhone Service, following a strategy-cum-creative pitch. I think the client saw the merit of our thinking and our credentials, and decided to go with us. Also, the fact that till recently we had Spice Telecom, worked in our favour." For the record, Capital had the Spice account for the Punjab circle from 1997 onwards, before the account was consolidated with HTA.

What is interesting about the Escotel movement is that the company has still not consolidated its cellular-based businesses with any one agency. It might be noted that Enterprise Nexus - which was one of the hopefuls in the latest pitch - already handles two of Escotel's pre-paid brands, VTel and Let's Talk. Capital's appointment is a clear indication that Escotel wants its pre- and post-paid businesses to be treated separately.

Also of interest is the fact that Leo Burnett did not defend the account. While the exact reasons for this are not clear, one plausible explanation is that Leo Burnett might have dropped out of Escotel's consideration as it already handles Magic, the pre-paid card business of Airtel.

Although Airtel and Escotel do not currently compete with one another in any circle (Escotel's operates in the Kerala, Western UP and Haryana circles, while Airtel covers Delhi, Himachal, Andhra, Karnataka and Chennai), with the government giving the fourth-cellular-operator concept a green signal, the two could lock horns sometime in the future. And Leo Burnett could then be a liability. Which is perhaps why Escotel has short-circuited its association with the agency.

Of course, these aren't issues that bother Capital the least bit. For now that it has the post-paid account, there are quite a few challenges facing the agency - perhaps the biggest of them being a booming pre-paid market, and a relatively sluggish post-paid one. However, Sachdeva is of the opinion that although the numbers are growing in the pre-paid market, it has its own problems.

"The pre-paid market is doing so well because the cost of entry is low," he says. "But at the same time, in this market, it's very difficult for a company to build a relationship with the consumer. It's all use-and-throw. And the revenue-per-user is much higher in the post-paid market. Which is why cellular operators are working hard at growing the post-paid market."

Sachdeva is visibly thrilled with the win. "Growing the post-paid business of Escotel is a classic brand building opportunity for Capital," he says. "Work has already started as we had the basic strategy in place. The campaigns should break by May, and will have a nice media mix." He revealed that although print and support will be the main media, the agency "might look at television also".

© 2001 agencyfaqs!