Every three years, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) reviews the advertising agencies on its panel. Following the expiry of the three-year contract with its current advertising agencies, IOCL's Delhi office sent out invitations to the Top 40 agencies (according to the 1999 A&M Agency Report) to pitch for IOCL's corporate account. Out of this 40, 28 agencies responded by making presentations before the IOCL brass.
The company's brief to the agencies this time was to present a strategy on the corporate branding of IOCL. On the basis of the strategy-cum-creative pitch made by these 28 agencies, IOCL has empanelled Grey Worldwide, Euro RSCG, Ushak Kaal, Publicis, Enterprise Nexus, Crayon and Interact Vision.
For the record, Mudra Communications and HTA (ex-IOCL agencies) were dropped out from the review process this time because both of them work on competitive brands. While Mudra handles Reliance Petroleum, HTA has Hindustan Petroleum.
The current review happened for three divisions of IOCL - corporate, R&D and refinery. However, the size of the cumulative advertising business is yet to be worked out. Amresh Kapoor, deputy manager, corporate communications, IOCL, said that the estimated spend of the corporate division stands at Rs 1 crore and that the ad spends of the other two departments have not been decided.
In general, there isn't much excitement around a public sector advertising account; the process is protracted and involves a whole host of agencies. "And at the end of the exercise all an agency is expected to do is organise below-the-line activities," says an advertising veteran. But for the agencies in the running, the IOCL account represent a unique opportunity given the growth prospects.
With the de-regulation of the petroleum sector, the dynamics of the market is expected to undergo a sea change. Talking about the not-so-distant future, Sanjay Sarma, director, client services, Ushak Kaal (one of the empanelled agencies), says, "For one, competition is going to increase manifold. Domestic players such as Reliance have always been there. Now, international players like Exxon, Caltex and Shell would be only too keen to join the fray. Second, prices would be determined by the market forces of supply and demand. So, it is important for oil companies to be top of mind."
To that end, it would be critical for the public sector oil companies to create a differentiation in terms of brand image and value-added services. Against this backdrop, the corporate branding exercise would be one of IOCL's key concerns. As it is, its biggest competitor Bharat Petroleum has successfully initiated its corporate branding exercise in the form of the 'Pure For Sure'campaign. In fact, Ashish Bahl, account director, Euro RSCG, feels the BP campaign is a 'pre-empt strike' against IOCL "…because IOCL has always been associated with purity."
Being a Fortune 500 company with a 7,500-strong retail network, IOCL is ready for the fight. Already two of its brands are heavily advertised - Servo (lubricant) and Indane (LGP). But most of the brand marketing activities happens out of IOCL's Mumbai office and the agencies on board are SSC&B, TBWA/Anthem and Headstart Advertising.
As new battle lines get drawn in the oil market, advertising agencies can look forward to some exciting times ahead. Â© 2002 agencyfaqs!