Newly christened Lowe Lintas has grabbed the much-coveted Maruti Alto account. Industry sources close to agencyfaqs! revealed that a couple of months back, Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) invited pitches from its existing agencies Lintas, Rediffusion, Capital and the newly-appointed Saatchi & Saatchi besides Mudra and Triton.
According to Preet K S Bedi, director Lowe Lintas & Partners, the task before the agency now would be "to make Alto the largest selling car in its segment".
Meanwhile, there have been various conjectures about the exact date of the Alto launch. MUL managing director Jagdish Khattar told reporters at the AutoExpo 2000 that the company would launch three new models during the calender year, including a stationwagon variant of the Baleno.
While the company had initially decided to introduce the Alto in September this year, it was later deferred to December 2000 or January next year.
On the question of the size of the Alto account and the time of its launch, both MUL and Lintas were non-committal. "All car companies are jittery about giving out new launch dates because that affects sales of their existing brands. Only Mr Khattar (MUL managing director Jagdish Khattar) and a handful of people would be able to tell you the exact date," said Bedi. Expectedly, Khattar could not be contacted.
Meanwhile, sources at Lowe Lintas confirmed "work has already begun on the Alto account" which could mean that "the launch could happen anytime in the next two-three months". agencyfaqs! was also told that the company has put aside a total of Rs 650 crore for the Alto project. MUL hopes to achieve a localisation level of more than 70 per cent by the time of launch.
On being asked if the Alto account is as big as the Maruti 800 account (Rs 25 crore), or the MUL corporate account (Rs 20-crore), Bedi replied, "You are talking about a lot of money. The Alto account is nowhere near that currently." But a senior MUL executive indicated that "the Alto account is in the Rs 10-crore zone."
On the advertising strategy for Alto, the MUL executive said, "A number of things have to be tied up before we talk of the advertising strategy. For example, whether it's going to be a 800-cc car or a 1000-cc car, what will be its pricing, and which segment it will be positioned in."
To put things in perspective, MUL has reconfigured two important accounts in the last three months. It shifted the corporate advertising business to Capital Advertising and the Rs 4-crore WagonR account to Saatchi & Saatchi. Both the accounts were earlier handled by Rediffusion.
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