ITC's lifestyle division scouts for digital AOR

By Satrajit Sen , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | January 06, 2014
The pitch is underway in Manesar. The selected agency will handle the digital marketing and social media portfolio for Wills Lifestyle and John Players. The agency will also manage the launch of the company's e-commerce platform.

ITC's lifestyle retailing business division -- best known for its sub-brands Wills Lifestyle and John Players -- is looking for a full service digital agency.

Wills Lifestyle

John Players

Karan Kumar

The selected agency will be required to handle the complete digital marketing and social media portfolios of both brands. The agency will also need to manage the launch of the company's e-commerce platforms for both brands. The digital budget, we learn, is yet to be frozen.

The pitch is underway in Manesar, the company's headquarters. The first round was held during the last week of December, 2013; the second round will commence in the coming week. Four agencies have already been shortlisted for the second round. However, the names of the participating agencies could not be ascertained at the time of filing this report.

Until now, the brand followed a project model and has been working with a couple of digital agencies. Speaking to afaqs! about the need to appoint a digital agency of record (AOR) for the division, Karan Kumar, general manager, Lifestyle Retailing Business Division, ITC, says, "The business has reached a certain structure and now we need a concrete and dedicated digital marketing calendar. We decided on an AOR model, so that we can work closely (with the digital partner) to ascertain that the essence of both our brands remains the same in the medium."

According to Kumar, having an e-commerce presence is very important for a lifestyle brand. Though the brand is present on all leading e-commerce portals, Kumar strongly feels that having its own e-commerce presence will boost the brand popularity further.

In January 2012, Wills Lifestyle launched 'The Debut' campaign executed by Sirez Infosystems, on Facebook. The idea was to expand the reach of 'The Debut', an all-India design competition through the brand's Facebook fans. A special 'wild card' entry was given to the regional participants, exclusively through Facebook.

The brand's agency had created a Facebook application that required people to upload their designs and creations in a sketch or image format.

The Wills Lifestyle Facebook page has more than eight lakh fans so far, whereas on Twitter, it has 4,555 followers. John Players, on Facebook, has more than seven lakh fans and 2,630 followers on Twitter. In 2010, actor Ranbir Kapoor was roped in as ITC John Players' celebrity brand ambassador.

Both the brands have been advertising mostly through newspapers, magazines and outdoor; this is the first time the brand is thinking of using the digital medium extensively.

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