Chennai-based Fountainhead Communications has won the Medimix Soap account, estimated at Rs 20 crore, following a multi-agency pitch in June this year. The pitch involved agencies such as Saatchi & Saatchi, TBWAAnthem, Rubecon, the incumbent agency Penetrate (a Mumbai-based agency), and, of course, Fountainhead.
The move assumes importance in view of the Cholayil Group's (makers of Medimix) aggressive expansion plans - to step out of its stronghold in the southern markets of India. More so, as it brings Suresh Pillai, managing director, Fountainhead Communications, that much more closer to his oft-vocalised dream of being the No 1 agency in Chennai.
The last one year has been particularly good for the agency, as it snapped up new business worth Rs 18 crore, which is likely to push its total billing to Rs 72 crore (not counting the recent gain of Medimix soap) by March 2002. The agency already has three other brands from Cholayil - Vrinda soap, a hair oil brand and a shaving cream brand (the last two will be launched soon).
Last year, Fountainhead signed up a few other high-profile accounts including JobsDB.com, Bharathi Television from Zee (renamed Alpha Tamil after its split with Asianet), Dishnet DSL broadband, Dishnet DSL hubs, Carnegie Education from the Sterling Group and the Crocodile range of apparels. Terumo Penpol, a blood transfusion equipment brand, is another industrial brand it has added to is portfolio recently.
Interestingly, what has actually helped Fountainhead bag Medimix seems to be its 'desi' label and its familiarity in dealing with 'home-grown' brands. "This agency, like us, is owned and run by Indian entrepreneurs," says M Goparaj, official spokesperson for Cholayil. "It has participated in the success of other indigenous brands such as Nyle shampoo and Fairever fairness cream from the CavinKare group. We feel the agency will be able to understand our needs and our ambitions better."
Being home-grown could not have been the sole reason though. "True, there were other better known agencies such as Chennai-based Rubecon and even the incumbent agency Penetrate. "The excellent creatives Fountainhead presented during the pitch and its professional research helped it clinch the deal. We felt they would be able to handle our ambitions at the national-scale well," says Goparaj.
Two years back, when the group was exploring opportunities in the markets of the west, it had assumed a Mumbai-based agency would work well in taking its plans forward. And it signed on Penetrate. But as it turned out, the agency failed to deliver on its brief and, in two years, the company was back on the agency hunt. Now, with a new agency on board it is trying to get a strong distribution team in place.
To this end, the company has tied-up with Muller & Phips to market and distribute its brands in markets barring the south and the west (in these markets the company handles the task itself). Thanks to these initiatives, the company has managed to push the number of distributors to 2,500, from just 833 a year ago.
The brand currently has the tough challenge of increasing its franchise in a plateauing soap market. The market is estimated at Rs 4,500 crore currently. Medimix, priced at Rs 10 for a 75-gm pack and Rs 15 for a 125-gm pack is positioned in the popular segment, which has grown by a meagre 2 per cent in the last couple of years.
But the new agency is optimistic about the brand's potential. "The USP for Medimix and Vrinda is that they are ayurvedic in their composition and all-purpose in their delivery. One can bathe, wash hair, prevent prickly heat and other skin aliments with these. They have medicinal and therapeutic properties, unlike other brands that serve one or the other of these purposes," says Shyam Sunder, assistant account director, Fountainhead.
About the media skew Sunder says, "We have allocated 90 per cent of spends for television and very little for press." He adds that the agency would mostly look at vernacular channels. That would include the top four southern channels, besides Hindi channels like Zee and Sony. According to the agency, Star Plus doesn't figure prominently on its media plan as the channel is geared towards a more upmarket audience.
© agencyfaqs! 2001