Going by reports in the media - and the rumours circulating within the ad industry - suiting brand Raymond has all but moved its estimated Rs 35-crore brand advertising account out of Enterprise Nexus. Where to? Well, it's supposed to be a tossup between Leo Burnett India, Contract Advertising and RK Swamy/BBDO. But, apparently, there is a fourth agency somewhere in the picture. And going by some rumours, a fifth and a sixth…
Of course, no one is really telling anything, choosing to play a keeping-fingers-crossed waiting game. After all, a decision from Raymond is expected either later this week, or early next week.
But what we do know, with a fair amount of certainty, is that Enterprise is not in the reckoning any longer. (Or is it?) Which is quite surprising to almost everyone who has followed Raymond advertising over the past six to seven years. For here is a brand that has been built purely on the basis of consistently great advertising… one of the best case studies of effective brand communication that Indian advertising has to offer. And full credit has to go to Enterprise - and Raymond, of course - for doing advertising that created a yawning gulf between the Raymond brand and the rest of the category.
So the big question is, why is Raymond moving out of Enterprise? It certainly can't be the creative product, feel industry professionals.
"Raymond is one of the real brands that Indian advertising has built," says Samit Sinha, partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting. "The advertising has been able to articulate the brand essence brilliantly. The way the advertising rose from the narrow confines of product benefit to emotional benefit was clutter-breaking. Raymond was the first suiting brand to tell Indian males that you don't have to be an Alpha male with some bimbo on your arm. The Complete Man was such an amazing idea, for it gave a certain amount of depth and sensibility to suiting advertising. And the brand was able to ride on that sensitivity."
On condition of anonymity, a senior vice-president with an agency that handles a rival suiting brand has this to say: "We handle a competing brand, but let me tell you, Raymond deserves a lot of respect. It has entrenched itself so strongly in the market that, in aspiration terms, it almost cannot be touched. And it's only because its advertising touches a chord with the consumer every time. The Complete Man is one of the most rounded ideas, and it allows competition very little room for anything."
However, there are some people who feel that The Complete Man concept has got into a bind. "The Complete Man is limiting because almost everything that had to be explored about the 'complete man' has been explored," says one senior executive from one of the agencies in the fray for the business. "His love for his family has been explored. His loyalty towards his friend has been explored. After some time, it becomes repetitive. The brand needs to grow out of the Complete Man capsule."
Sinha, of course, doesn't think so. "The Complete Man has endless possibilities," he says. "It is not just a line, but a thought process. You can take 'complete' as a sense of contentment, for instance. It is as stretchable a thought as say, 'Just Do It'." In fact, one very good example of how the thought can be extended came through in an ad that Raymond released somewhere around the time India was celebrating its 50th year of Independence. The ad simply read 'Complete freedom'.
For his part, Rajiv Agarwal (currently managing director, Enterprise Nexus, and soon-to-be national chief, rmg david) feels that Raymond moving the account out of Enterprise isn't, perhaps, the best thing for the brand. "I think it's a pity if Raymond were to move, and I'm not saying it because I was a part of the team here," he says. "I personally think the team and the agency have done a wonderful job of building the brand. And I don't believe that the quality of the work or the business attention has changed in anyway."
Sinha too feels that, in pure advertising terms, the work on the brand has been consistent. "The advertising has been true to the soul of the brand. Yes, individual pieces of advertising may not always connect, but by and large, Raymond has struck very few discordant notes."
However, there is also a feeling that, of late, some of Raymond's advertising is running frightfully close to category advertising. The shift from the emotional vein to the more fashion- and attitude-centric approach is quite palpable - and jarring to Raymond watchers. "Some of the recent work done by Raymond is very much what the category is doing," says Sinha. "And that is quite uncharacteristic of Raymond."
Is that why Raymond is looking for a new agency? "I, for one, firmly believe that any move - if it happens, that is - would have nothing to do with the work done by the agency," Agarwal insists.
So why does Raymond need a new agency?
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