Cellular operator Escotel has awarded the advertising account of its pre-paid business to Capital Advertising, Delhi. The Rs 5-crore account, which was previously with Enterprise Nexus, Delhi, went up for review some 10/12 days ago. It is believed Escotel sat through presentation from both the roster agencies - Enterprise Nexus and Capital last week. The account came Capital's way Sunday last. For the record, the total subscriber base of Escotel currently is over 4,70,000. Of these about 150,000 lakh are post-paid customers and over 3,20,000 are prepaid.
What is interesting about the Escotel movement is that the company has finally consolidated its cellular-based businesses with one agency. Speaking to agencyfaqs!, Sonjoy Mohanty, chief officer, customer acquisition and retention, Escotel, said, "We treat our agency/agencies not as vendors but as business partners. Going forward we realized we couldn't have two business partners. Every time you duplicate the number of partners, your energies get split between them. So it made immense sense to us to focus our energies on cultivating a single partner here."
Sunil Sachdeva, director, Capital Advertising, says, "I think the client saw the merit of our thinking and our credentials, and the work we did for the post-paid business we have been handling for over a year now." He adds, "It would be a challenging assignment to handle because of two reasons. One, Escotel's expansion plans. Escotel is moving into Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and eastern Uttar Pradesh. So the spends are likely to go up, though I can't put a figure to the exact size of the business. Two, the biggest chunk of growth in cellular subscription is coming from the pre-paid business. In fact, about 85 to 90 per cent of the new acquisitions comprise pre-paid customers. And this is a global phenomenon."
The other interesting thing is the possibility of increasing competition. Sachdeva elaborates, "The only meaningful competition Escotel had till now was in Kerala, in the form of BPL. But there too Escotel has proved a point by becoming the No 1 brand beating the local heavyweight." Although Escotel does not currently compete with market leader Airtel in any circle (Escotel operates in the Kerala, western UP and Haryana circles, while Airtel covers Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Kolkata, Karnataka and Chennai), with the government giving the fourth-cellular-operator concept a green signal, the two could lock horns sometime in the future. The two possible battle zones are Punjab, which is among Escotel's impending stops, and western UP, where Airtel, is slated to enter in the next few months.
Of course, the move of the business is not an issue that's bothering Enterprise Nexus the least bit. It seems the agency has been given an assurance by Escotel that the account will be put up for review again around August/September 2002. Mohanty doesn't refute this contention. "For us every business is subject to review. Being a transparent organisation we are not hiding the possibility. In fact, our partner knows that there will be a review."
He was, however, unwilling to project how the account is likely to grow as the company adds to the number of circles. "All I would say is we have to earn the right to grow. While I know that we would be hitting Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and eastern Uttar Pradesh in the next three to four months, we haven't worked out the course yet. And it's also not mandatory that the advertising outlay will increase in the same proportion. It all depends on how we are able to grow the business." © 2002 agencyfaqs!