Contract Advertising's Mumbai office has added two prestigious businesses to its brand portfolio recently - those of insurance JV Allianz-Bajaj, and Cadbury's new premium chocolate offering, Temptations. The dual gains are estimated to add approximately Rs 20 crore to the agency's annual billing.
Speaking to agencyfaqs!, a visibly-pleased Rajiv Sabnis, senior vice-president, Contract Advertising, said, "The two wins have had a fantastic impact on all of us. There is a buzz in the agency, and the morale is up there. We have certainly bucked the slowdown (incidentally, Contract is one of the few agencies that are still recruiting people) and are quite pleased with the way things have gone for us."
Things have surely gone very well for Contract, especially with regards to the Allianz-Bajaj win, considering that the agency was up against stiff competition all through the three rounds of presentations over a period of four months. "The first briefing that we had from the client took place sometime in May this year," Sabnis reveals. "Including us, 11 agencies were shortlisted and invited to make presentations." agencyfaqs! has gathered that Contract apart, O&M, FCB-Ulka, HTA, Ambience D'Arcy, RK Swamy/BBDO, Triton Communications and Quadrant Communications were among the agencies that pitched for the Rs 16-crore account.
Following the first round of presentations, Allianz-Bajaj whittled the list down to four agencies - Contract, O&M, HTA and Ambience. Incidentally, RK Swamy failed to make it to the second round, despite the fact that BBDO is Allianz's regional agency for Asia-Pacific. In the second round of presentations, which was presided by Allianz's corporate communication head from Singapore, the four contenders were asked to provide credentials plus total integrated solutions that ranged from strategy to creative to media to CRM to design and identity.
By end August, it was clearly a two-horse race between siblings Contract and HTA. Finally, late last week, Allianz-Bajaj put an end to the uncertainty by formally intimating Contract of its appointment. "It was a close fight with HTA," Sabnis smiles with relief. "We were neck-and-neck on most issues. But what perhaps got us the business was the fact that the client saw us to be the most committed and interested. They also liked the enthusiasm that Contract showed, despite a long-drawn pitch. Also, I think we proved that we were the quickest learners in this new category - every time we went to them, we had a new insight or learning to offer."
For Contract, it is important that it picks up the category's 'threads' quickly, and Sabnis knows that. "The agency has to understand the regulatory framework. While coming up with product ideas, you have to be clearly within the law. You cannot give a freebie or an incentive and link it to a sale. Neither can you exaggerate or make a promise that cannot be substantially covered. The communication has to be creative within the laws put down by the IRDA. Also, the local communication has to dovetail the regional advertising created out of Singapore."
While these are 'backend issues', things are as complicated at the consumer-end. In India, the penetration of insurance is low, and despite the best efforts of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), penetration is roughly put at 20 per cent - that too only in urban areas. Throughout India, insurance is a low-involvement, low-awareness category. "Insurance, as a concept, is not well seeded in India," Sabnis points out. "Consumers either look at it as a tax-saving devise or as a support for the family in case of death. But the point is, insurance is actually about planned investment. It is an assured-return instrument. But the consumer need to be educated about this."
One good thing about this account is that Contract does not necessarily have to worry about competition and market shares. Not immediately, at least. With much of the category waiting to be 'opened up', there's enough for everyone, without having to fight one another. "The category will be a slow-burn category," says Sabnis. "Getting a 1-2 per cent market share in year one will itself be a huge accomplishment." But giving Allianz brand salience, especially in the long-term, is another issue altogether.
Vis-à-vis Cadbury Temptations - an international range of premium chocolates - Contract won the estimated Rs 4-crore account last month. "There was no pitch for this business," Sabnis informs. "We were asked to make a presentation, and we got the account." Incidentally, this is the third Cadbury brand that Contract currently handles, the other two being Milk Treat and ChocoBix.
Temptations is aimed at the niche 'international chocolates' segment of the chocolate market - a segment defined by consumers who upgrade from brands such as Cadbury's Dairy Milk to premium international offerings such as Toblerone, Lindt and Hersheys. At roughly 5 per cent of the total domestic consumption (and expected to grow to some 10 per cent) this segment is too important to miss out on. "The previous Cadbury range available in India did not offer consumers an option to upgrade to an international chocolate within the Cadbury fold," explains Sabnis. "Temptations is an attempt to plug that niche."
The entire positioning of the brand centres at the line 'Too good to share.' The communication for the brand is ready for release, and includes radio, outdoor and television (the commercial, scheduled to go on air on September 15, does an adequate job of communicating the brand's positioning using humour). Contract has also leveraged the Internet for a promo (prizes include a trip for two to Seychelles), and has also facilitated the use of ICICI's ATMs as a 'impulse purchase' trigger for the brand. Free sampling at premium restaurants is another initiative.
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