Major cellular accounts change hands in Chennai

By , agencyfaqs! | In | April 06, 2002
The RPG cellular post-paid account has shifted from O&M, Chennai, to rubecon. Orange, in turn, is set to park with O&M

The RPG cellular post-paid account has shifted from O&M, Chennai, to rubecon Communications recently. But rubecon's gain does not necessarily signify a major loss for the other agency. This shift was timed to coincide with Hutchison-Orange's planned entry in Chennai. Which basically means O&M gets to handle the Orange brand in the city as well.

"This RPG account was won in a multi-agency pitch. They obviously liked our strategy, which was built on the local image of the brand," claims Alexander Zachariah, director, rubecon. On his turn, R Krishna Mohan, vice-president & branch head, O&M, Chennai, says, "We had to give up RPG as Orange is planning an entry, and we handle the brand in other circles. However, the time for launch is not known yet."

To win the account, rubecon had to compete with two biggies including Lowe, which handles the advertising account of RPG's pre-paid brand Wings, and HTA. Now, rubecon has a difficult task at hand. If earlier SkyCell and RPG had a near similar footing in Chennai, the equation has changed dramatically with the takeover of SkyCell by the Bharti Group. Even until last year RPG had almost 60 per share of the total Chennai market under its belt (with SkyCell hogging the balance 40 per cent). By the turn of the new year RPG's share was down to 48 per cent. "Bharti is known as a huge national player with a wide network. In that context, we decided that the best way to pitch RPG would be to make people connect with the brand locally, as their very own icon. This strategy helped us bag the account," explains Zachariah.

It was not aggressive pricing (as both are equally competitive), but the sheer force of Bharti's marketing and communication efforts that changed the equation in the market, say analysts. SkyCell, which later became AirTel, was handled by HTA until November last year and new campaigns were launched on television as frequently as almost every 48 hours. "I guess there was no way that RPG could keep pace with AirTel's spends on advertising and promotions. RPG could only follow suit," remarks an industry observer.

RPG's new ads from rubecon would be a shift from the earlier O&M ads in more ways than one. For example, the first ad has a guy miming out a phone call with his hands. Also, the use of colour - or the lack of it - is quintessentially rubecon. The rest of the crowd in the ad is in black and white and the person miming the call is in colour. In a similar way, common situations like a wedding or a cricket match have been used to drive home the point that communication is part of life.

According to sources, the advertising account for the post-paid business of RPG is around Rs 3 crore. In contrast, the total AirTel account handled out of Rediffusion's Chennai branch stands at Rs 6 crore. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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