After a lot of procrastination, Tata Infotech, part of the $ 9-billion Tata Group, has awarded the estimated Rs 8-10 crore advertising account of its education services division to Lowe Lintas & Partners. Confirming the development, Rahul Thapan, head -education services division, said The Media Edge, Rediffusion DY&R's media buying arm, will be the AOR for the company.
agencyfaqs! diehards would recall the June 29 report (Tata Infotech on agency hunt), where the details of the pitch were given. As stated in that story, the first round of presentations happened in the first week of July. The 10 agencies invited were HTA, Lintas, Mudra, O&M, Grey, FCB Ulka, McCann-Erickson, MAA Bozell, Ushak Kaal, and, of course, the incumbent agency Joint & Arms.
As it turned out, while the company had invited 10 agencies for the pitch, another six knocked at its door after the news was flashed on agencyfaqs!. The company indicated these included "most of the other agencies among the Top 15". An update on this was given in our story Tata Infotech shortlists 4 agencies; Tata Group another 2 for its AOR (August 30).
The entire pitch process took up close to two months. By August-end, the company had shortlisted four agencies - Lintas, Rediffusion, Euro RSCG and McCann-Erickson. A senior Tata Infotech executive indicated then that the final decision would emerge around September 15 or so. As it turned out, the legalities involved in the process took two more months to be sorted out.
The company's decision to shift the account is in line with its plans to tap the global market. Explaining the reason for the move Thapan said, "There were two major reasons. Primarily we wanted an agency to bring in the strategic planning perspective and insights on consumer behaviour. J&A was lacking in market intelligence in terms of what competition (like NIIT or Aptech) was doing or what the consumer wanted. Also, we have major plans to go abroad and tap the overseas markets. So we need an agency with an international presence and the expertise to handle expansion on a massive scale. These were our basic requirements. When and what media is to be used to achieve this comes only after that."
Tata Infotech executives are all charged up to take on the challenge ahead. Company sources had earlier indicated that with these plans ahead of itself Tata Infotech has almost doubled its ad spend from Rs 5 crore last year. A senior advertising executive at the Tata Infotech education services division had said, "So far, the focus of our communication has been on the print medium. However, to make the brand Tata Infotech synonymous with IT, print is not adequate. Television and radio too can be used cost effectively to drum up the message."
Thapan indicated the crux of the new communication strategy will be 'overall branding of the Tata Infotech education business'. "Specific messages will emerge from the market research that is being conducted currently. But the idea will be to communicate that Tata Infotech education is not about technical education only but a combination of business education, technology and its applications," he said.
Among the overseas markets the company plans to tap are South Africa, countries of South Asia and the Far East, including China, Korea, Philippines and Vietnam. Thapan said the company currently has 300 centres across India (315, if the overseas centres are taken into account), and plans to take the figure up to 400 by March 2002.
Talking about her expectations from the new agency, she says, "We would certainly prefer a large agency with a national presence because we have centres across the country. The advantage is that there will be consistency in communication since co-ordinating with our centres outside Delhi will be easier. Briefly, an agency which is geared up to meet our growing needs strategically is what we are looking at."
Tata Infotech, is one of the bigger information technology companies in the Tata Group, in which Tata Sons has a 76 per cent stake (the balance 24 per cent is held by the Indian public). The education services division started operations in 1992 and is headquartered in Delhi. In total, there are around 200 centres across the country with student strength of 15,000. The company plans to increase the number of centres to 400 by 2002.
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