Contract Advertising, Bangalore, has dislodged four-year incumbent Lowe Lintas & Partners to lay hands on the advertising account of BPL batteries. With this development, Contract has been entrusted all the business of BPL's soft energy division. "We have won the entire business - all their battery brands, plus the rechargeable lanterns business," Dipak Marwah, senior vice-president, Contract Advertising, told agencyfaqs!
While the movement - which occurred three weeks ago - was not preceded by a 'formal pitch', agencyfaqs! has learnt that BPL was evaluating a couple of agencies other than Contract and Lintas. The identity of these agencies is not known. As far as Contract is concerned, the agency won the account on the merit of "the credentials we presented to the client".
Explaining this in detail, Marwah said, "We had been speaking to BPL for some time now. Obviously, we had to sell them the capabilities of Contract, Bangalore. While our creative capabilities were never in question, we had to sell our capabilities in planning. We demonstrated our strengths in this area by showcasing our work for other clients, and I think the client saw value in what we offered." Although Marwah did not reveal the size of the BPL win, industry estimates suggest the account should be worth approximately Rs 4 crore.
What is significant about the win is that the account has been in the custody of Lintas since the time BPL launched batteries in the Indian market. It may be recalled that in the past, Lintas has done some noteworthy advertising for the brand, especially for BPL Excell (BPL's alkaline battery brand). In fact, its visually engaging 'battlefront' commercial (soldier shoots enemies with camera) made quite a mark, winning both Lintas and Crest Communications lots of plaudits. The 'walkathalon' commercial too was quite distinct in the way it highlighted the brand's long-lasting proposition. And even the 'airport' commercial for BPL Powercell (BPL's zinc chloride battery brand) and the latest 'car chase' commercial for Excell were not half-bad, though not quite in the same league.
Although it is not clear what prompted BPL to move the account from Lintas, it could be assumed that the company is bullish on the market, and wants to galvanize its efforts at increasing market share. In the alkaline batteries segment, Excell is pitted against multinational brands Duracell and Energizer. And although in this segment BPL Excell is number two to Duracell, the fact that Gillette is relaunching Duracell in June (under the name Coppertop, as it is popularly known in the West, after the brand's copper and black design) with a $100-million global campaign, might have prompted BPL to get its act together.
Interestingly, the alkaline battery segment in India has proved to be a disappointment so far, and accounts for less than 3 per cent of the 1,920-million piece (Rs 1,500 crore) market. The primary reason for this is that alkaline batteries command a premium of more than 100 per cent over zinc-based batteries. The zinc-based segment constitutes 97 per cent of total demand. In this segment, Eveready is the market leader, with Nippo, Novino and BPL being the other significant players.
It is clear that Contract has its hands full. While in the alkaline segment it has to get the better of Duracell, in the zinc-based segment, it's a no-holds-barred tussle. Add to this the fact that batteries, as a category, suffer from low consumer involvement. "The primary challenge is to increase salience and market share for BPL," Marwah admits. He however maintains that, "it's a bit premature to talk about strategy, since we have just got the account. Also, it would not be prudent to be discussing the likely strategy."
For now, he is happy celebrating the win. "BPL is a big and important player in the market, more so in Bangalore. It's great to be handling one of their brands."
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