MTS debates whether to initiate pitch

By Rashmi Menon , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | March 15, 2013
The account has been with Rediffusion-Y&R since 2010 and, before that, was with Saatchi & Saatchi.

Russian telecom major Sistema Shyam TeleServices, which operates the MTS brand, is reconsidering its creative partnership. According to sources close to the development, some agencies have initiated discussion with the company.

When afaqs! spoke to the MTS India spokesperson, he didn't deny the development but evaded a direct answer saying, "We are in the process of evaluating whether to go in for a pitch or not."


The brand's incumbent agency is Rediffusion-Y&R which has been handling MTS since 2010. Before that Saatchi & Saatchi serviced the account. Its media mandate is handled by Havas Media, while its digital duties are looked after by Rediffusion-Y&R Digital.

Headquartered in Gurgaon, MTS entered the Indian market in March, 2009. The holding company, Sistema Shyam TeleSerivces, is a collaboration between Sistema Joint Stock Financial Corporation of Russia and Shyam Group of India.

When it initially entered India, MTS obtained access to provide services pan-India, spread across 22 telecom circles. The company was forced to shut services in 10 circles last month and another three (Mumbai, Maharashtra and UP-East) on March 11 following an order passed by the Supreme Court.

However, in the recent spectrum auction, MTS has won eight circles, namely Delhi, Kolkata, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh (West) and West Bengal. Its presence in the Rajasthan circle remained unaffected by the court order.

The company has three revenue lines - voice service (MTS), data service (MBlaze) and MTS branded smartphones (bundled with voice and data plans). As a CDMA player, MTS's major competitors are Reliance and Tata.

About a week ago, MTS launched a new campaign titled 'Women Mpowered' to observe International Women's Day. Besides gifting pepper spray bottles to every woman who bought a new MTS connection, it offered a special talk time plan where women received special calling rates, SMS rates, calls at negative balance, and safety tips, among other things. It also launched a customised dongle on March 14.

According to the company's website, it has invested more than $3.2 billion in spreading its telecom network in India and has over 1,200 branded retail stores. The company also claims to be the first telecom operator to provide high speed mobile broadband in Jharkhand and Sikkim. MTS has also partnered with India Unite for the End Polio Now campaign and Smile Foundation.

Sistema, which is one of top 10 companies in terms of revenues in Russia, was formed in 1993. According to the company's website, it is also one of the largest publicly-traded diversified holding companies worldwide. Besides India, MTS has presence in the former Russian federation states - Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Armenia.

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