Well, the wait is over but not the surprise.
Hindustan Motors has awarded the estimated Rs 4-crore Ambassador account to Equus Advertising. Equus' popping into the scene is as much a surprise for agencyfaqs! as it is for the readers. The earlier story Anthem, Euro, Triton challenge Mudra for Ambassador, dated June 7, named four agencies in the fray. It later emerged there was a fifth agency too - Equus had also thrown its hat in the ring by then.
Says CK Birla Group's general manager, corporate communication, Soni Shrivastav, "We had actually invited five agencies. Equus was in on account of its reputation as a good creative agency." All the five agencies were asked to make a creative-cum-strategy pitch for Ambassador. The company found Equus' work "most appropriate" and thus the decision to award the business to it. However, the media part of the Ambassador account is still under consideration.
The reason for the pitch was propelled by the fact that the Ambassador wasn't getting the attention that was due. "The account was with Mudra for five years and though the agency had done a good job, we still felt the brand needed a fresh perspective." This development does not sever Hindustan Motors' ties with Mudra, as the agency continues to service Lancer. Incidentally, Ambassador is one of the most awarded and longest-running campaigns on Mudra's roster.
Soni Shrivastav is confident that with the new agency's efforts and the right marketing mix, the gap between "the perception of Ambassador and its reality" will be bridged. She feels the biggest disadvantage of Ambassador is the perception that the brand is old and stodgy and lacks contemporary features. Shrivastav says the reality is quite different and that the brand has tremendous equity. "Recently Amarvillas, a renowned hotel in Agra, purchased a fleet of Ambassadors for pick-ups and drops to the airport. Karma cabs, a London-based taxi company, charges about 40 pounds for an hour's ride in the Ambassador. If you would recall, Virgin Atlantic chief Richard Branson wanted to travel in a red Ambassador when he was in India. So, the Ambassador does have an appeal. It's just that the settled dust has to be blown off."
The basic thrust of the communication will be harping on the "newness" of Ambassador, says Shrivastav. "Many people are stuck with the old image of Ambassador. But those who have driven the car in the last two years will know the product has gone through a big change. The technology has been upgraded to make the car contemporary. The company has invested huge sums of money in the Uttarpara (a north Kolkata suburb) plant to ensure that Ambassador today is better than its ancestor."
The communication will be pegged on such strengths of the Ambassador as 'spaciousness', 'sturdiness', 'cost effective spare parts' and its suitability to Indian roads. Currently, 65 per cent of Ambassador sales come from the taxi segment and 17 per cent comes form the Government. The balance is from individual consumers. The biggest chunk of Ambassador buyers, therefore, is the taxi-owners segment. Thus the strategy would be to rebuild the image of the brand and pitch Ambassador in the most contemporary way to the potential consumer.
© agencyfaqs! 2001