Following a hotly contested seven-agency pitch, Contract Advertising, Mumbai, has won the advertising account of Platinum Guild International (PGI), the world body constituted to promote the consumption of platinum as a jewellery medium. Contract was formally intimated about its appointment a fortnight ago, "within 24 hours of our presentation", Rajiv Sabnis, senior vice-president, Contract Advertising, told agencyfaqs!.
The Rs 5-crore account went up for grabs in the third week of June, and witnessed the likes of Contract, Grey Worldwide, Mudra Communications, McCann-Erickson, rmg david, Vyas Giannetti Creative and ex-incumbent CDH (ChadhaDharHoon) battling it out for pole position. "The entire business moves to us, including mainline communication, direct marketing and design & corporate identity," Sabnis revealed. Incidentally, CDH was the first agency to be appointed by PGI in India, a little over a year ago, and it is believed that Dharen Chadha was closely involved with PGI's entry strategy in India two years ago.
When asked what had helped Contract clinch the account, Sabnis chose to have the client speak for Contract - he drew attention to a paragraph in a letter that the agency had received from the client. "The quality of your thinking and work clearly placed you ahead of the rest," the letter reads. "The communication programme that you presented was both comprehensive and impressive. I would like to congratulate and thank the Platinum team for all the effort and great work."
London-headquartered PGI - a body akin to the World Gold Council (or De Beers for diamonds) - is sponsored by leading platinum mining companies of the world, and is dedicated to increasing the demand for platinum jewellery the world over. The Guild is currently operational in the US, China, Italy, Japan, Germany and now, India.
While there is no doubting that the Guild is serious about expanding the Indian market (the Guild's aggressive marketing in the US and China contributed to double-digit growth in demand for platinum jewellery in these two countries), the fact remains that India has traditionally been a gold market, what with gold serving as a buffer against penury. And unlike gold, platinum currently commands little resale value in India. Also, for whatever reasons, traditional jewellers are more favourable to gold. Add to this the fact that the World Gold Council has been quite active in India, and the Guild has quite an uphill task.
Sabnis agrees, but only in part. "Our competition is clearly gold jewellery, but platinum is seen as being more individualistic, and hence, expressive of the self," he says. "Gold, on the other hand, is primarily directed outwards, and is thus, socio-centric and status maintaining. There seems to be a certain boredom that has set in with gold jewellery, and as such, women are in a mood to experiment with something more wearable and less ostentatious. Subtle elegance is in, and gold doesn't seem to offer that. Platinum is also seen as more modern, and hence, it compliments western outfits. Gold is more traditional and occasion specific. The 'Platinum Woman' is clearly a trendsetter who is looking for a distinctive, understated look." Jewellers tend to agree that platinum is more likely to appeal to the upper-end consumer who sees jewellery more as a fashion statement. They also feel that platinum will be an attractive proposition for consumers who prefer branded jewellery.
The challenge for Contract is two-fold. On one level it has to build brand recognition for platinum among consumers, correct negative perceptions and "position platinum as the ultimate, most precious metal for fine jewellery". On the other it has to help PGI co-opt the trade (family jewellers, branded jewellery outlets and designers) in an effort to promote the metal. "To know the likely strategy, please wait till August end," is all Sabnis says. "We need to hone-in on specific media as per the phased rollout planned. The most cost-effective media will be the benchmark. A lot of non-traditional work is on the anvil, right down to the retail outlet."
Sabnis is understandably thrilled with the win. "Currently you see only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the penetration. The scope and potential is tremendous."
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