afaqs!

Ebony on agency hunt

By , agencyfaqs! | In | June 08, 2001
Delhi-based retailing chain Ebony is looking to reposition itself with some help from Mumbai-based marketing consultants, Samsika, and, of course, a new advertising agency



agencyfaqs!
NEW DELHI

Delhi-based retailing chain Ebony is on an agency hunt. agencyfaqs! has gathered that the pitch, which happened over three rounds, is already over. Lalit Kumar, group vice-president, has confirmed that "the decision-making process has reached the last stage" and that a final call on the agency will be taken in two weeks' time.

Ebony is part of the $300-million D.S. Group run by H.S. Narula, which is also engaged in real estate, hotels and leisure management, besides construction and commodity trading. A source close to agencyfaqs! has indicated that "most big agencies in Delhi including HTA and Lintas" were in the fray for the estimated Rs 2-crore account. Among the other agencies that have pitched were Leo Burnett, Mudra, Bates and incumbent R K Swamy / BBDO. It appears that McCann Erickson, which was invited to make a pitch, opted out in the final round.

Kumar of Ebony said that the pitch was called to get some fresh ideas about how to reposition the Ebony brand. It seems that the group has roped in the services of Mumbai-based Samsika Marketing Consultants to guide them through the repositioning process. While Jagdeep Kapoor, president of Samsika, was unavailable for comment, Kumar refused to discuss the issue saying, "It would be unfair to the incumbent agency." However, he did not deny the facts gathered by agencyfaqs!. On the other hand, Abhijit Basu, vice-president, R K Swamy/BBDO, Delhi, refused to be drawn into any discussion on Ebony.

But executives at Leo Burnett and Bates reiterated that the client was looking for "a comprehensive solution" and so the pitch has been a mix of strategy and creative. In fact, one of them went to the extent of saying, "By the end of the first round the client would have arrived at a consensus on the strategy. The second round was focused on the creative side and the third was more of an agency assessment."

Among all the people agencyfaqs! spoke to, Nikhil Nehru, president of McCann Erickson, seemed to be the only person willing to go on record on the issue. And this is what he had to say. "We had pitched for the account and, in fact, we were under the impression that we have got the account. That was last year, and that time we had reached a stage where we were discussing remuneration with the client. However, this year, we came to know that Ebony has called some eight / nine agencies in Delhi to pitch. When we called them up they said the consultant wanted it that way. So when they invited us to pitch again, we decided to opt out. But we thought that if big agencies like HTA and Lintas were pitching for a Rs 1-Rs 1.5 crore account, things must be pretty bad for them."

Whatever be the outcome, it is evident the choice of the new agency will have a big impact on the Rs 50-crore (year 2000-2001) group's expansion plans. The retail chain, which has five outlets (three in Delhi and one each in Ludhiana and Chandigarh) currently, plans to go aggressive this year on the expansion front. On the anvil are two more Ebony stores - one in Jalandhar, which will be opened on the June 29 and another in Chennai slated to open its doors in August. As well as a change of stance - from "a complete department store" to well all we can say is stay tuned for that!

© 2001 agencyfaqs!