Ebony, part of the $300-million DS Group run by HS Narula, has signed on Mudra, Delhi, to handle its advertising account. agencyfaqs! die-hards would remember the story that appeared on the site last month (Ebony on agency hunt) that reported the Delhi-based retailing chain was looking to shift its advertising account from RK Swamy/BBDO.
It may be recalled that most top agencies in Delhi, including Leo Burnett, Mudra, Bates and incumbent RK Swamy/BBDO were in the fray for this account. agencyfaqs! had also mentioned that McCann-Erickson, Delhi, which was invited to make a pitch, opted out in the final round.
The rush for Ebony is understandable. The retailing chain, which opened its first outlet in Delhi in 1995, is today a must-do place on every diehard shopper's list. It took Ebony close to five years to perfect the model of retailing in India - which is the main reason why Ebony did not move to locations beyond South Delhi's hippest market, South Extension, in the initial years - but come 2002 and Narula hopes to have at least 15 Ebony stores all over India.
While the ad-spend of Ebony last year wasn't anything to write home about, the pitch had generated a lot of interest among agencies in the Capital, given the parent group's expansion plans. The Rs 50-crore (year 2000-2001) retail chain, which has six outlets (three in Delhi and one each in Ludhiana, Chandigarh and Jalandhar) currently, is planning to step out of its bastion in Delhi.
Narula's next stop will be in Chennai, where he plans to open an outlet next month and then in the country's commercial capital, Mumbai. In both these cities it would be up against big-time competition, in the nature of Shopper's Stop, Westside and the like. That doesn't seem to pose too much of a problem for DS Group honcho HS Narula who has his finger in many pies. He runs a highly successful construction and real estate business in Canada, the UK, the US and India. Besides, he has two hotel chains in the UK, apart from the retaining chain in India.
Interestingly, some months back the group had roped in the services of Mumbai-based Samsika Marketing Consultants to guide it through Ebony's expansion plans. Also on the card was a major repositioning exercise to broaden the Ebony stance from "a complete department store" to something "bigger". A source close to agencyfaqs!, indicates that Samsika may not be involved in the process after all, and that Mudra would perhaps be given the mandate to carry the group's plans forward. He has also indicated that the group has pegged its ad budget at Rs 4-5 crore for the next one year to create a buzz around the brand to help it through its planned expansion.
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