agencyfaqs! news bureau
Exactly a month back (October 8) agencyfaqs! ran a story Hakuhodo plucks Nippo from Metaphor. The story stated that Mumbai-based advertising agency Metaphor has ceded the Rs 7-crore Nippo batteries (from the Indo National stable) account to the nine-month-old Chennai branch of Hakuhodo Percept. The account comprised three sub-brands Hyper, Super and Gold, the article stated.
The article was based on inputs from Hakuhodo Percept's Delhi office and supporting data from Nippo executives based in Chennai. agencyfaqs! tried speaking to Metaphor for its version of the story, but, as luck would have it, the day (Saturday, October 6) we got wind of the movement was the day Metaphor Mumbai's office phone numbers changed! Since there was no response on the number we had, we went ahead with the story - believing what the Indo National headquarters had said was the official stand of the company.
Imagine our surprise, when we get this angry note (dated October 10) from Deep Bisen, chief executive officer and director, Metaphor, challenging the veracity of the story. Bisen's mail said, "The fact is that the Indo National account is primarily divided zone-wise in terms of marketing and advertising activities. The south zone is handled out of Indo National, Chennai, whereas the north and west zones are handled out of Indo National, New Delhi. The south account has been recently awarded to Hakuhodo, Chennai, whereas the north, east and west zones are with Metaphor. In fact, I am happy to inform you that to service this large multi-crore account out of Delhi, Metaphor has recently opened a full-fledged and full service office at 38-A, Kalkaji."
We were in a fix. Did we get it wrong this time?
Was Hakuhodo Percept COO Debashis Bose wrong when he said his agency has got the account? Did the Chennai-based Nippo executive (a senior official at that) who spoke to us insisting he was the official spokesperson of the company - though he wanted not to be quoted - misleading us? We had no answers.
The obvious course was to call the Nippo executive (who still doesn't want to be identified) at Chennai and ask him what the real story was. And then check with the Hakuhodo Percept executive if he spoke out of turn.
The number of times we spoke to these two people was not even funny. At the end, the exasperated Nippo executive said, "There is no zone-wise division, Hakuhodo is the national agency, Metaphor will do the local releases and instead of calling on my cell, why don't you ask the Metaphor guys to sort it out with Hakuhodo?"
While our collective wisdom suggested a tussle of sorts at Nippo, came another bouncer. We got a message from Metaphor, Mumbai, that "Raj Phadke, director at the agency and SK Chopra, chief general manager, Indo National, would like to meet you in Delhi to clarify the situation and set the records right."
Oh yes! We wanted to clarify the situation and set the records right too. So we rushed in (on October 24) at 38-A, Kalkaji for our tryst with the "real" Nippo spokesperson. We were met there by Phadke and Vipul Haleja, marketing manager, Nippo. Both of them reiterated the things stated in Bisen's mail - that Metaphor was the national agency while Hakuhodo was the regional agency of Nippo. Haleja said he was the official spokesperson of the company but, despite repeated requests, he would not agree to send in an "official" rejoinder to agencyfaqs! stating the "real facts".
Two hours and at the end of it we were back to square one!
We had two senior executives claiming to be the official spokesperson of the same company and two agencies claiming they serviced the same account.
Surely a one-of-its-kind experience for any journalist. No two-ways about it.
© agencyfaqs! 2001