Kinetic awards scooters to FCB-Ulka, scooterettes to Contract

By , agencyfaqs! | In | June 10, 2002
Following Mudra's acquisition of the Yamaha portfolio, Kinetic Motors has moved its scooter account to FCB-Ulka and scooterettes to Contract Advertising

It's been churn time in two-wheeler account management these last few months.

And in the latest instance of this churning, Kinetic Motor Company - the scooters and scooterette manufacturing division of the Pune-based, Rs 1,200-crore Kinetic Group - has moved its advertising account out of Mudra Communications, and split the business between FCB-Ulka (scooters) and Contract Advertising (scooterettes). The reason being, Mudra Delhi's acquisition of the Rs 25-crore Yamaha portfolio (corporate advertising and brand advertising for Yamaha brands Crux, Crux R, Royal Star and YBX 125) from TBWAAnthem last month.

Of course, no bad blood here between Mudra and Kinetic, clarifies Ajay Kapila, senior vice-president, sales & marketing, Kinetic Engineering. "Much before the shift (at Kinetic) was consummated, Mudra had picked up the entire Yamaha portfolio," he told agencyfaqs!. "With a natural acceptance of each other's business interests, we had to take the decision to move out of Mudra."

Interestingly, agencyfaqs! had reported Mudra's Yamaha win on May 27. And it turns out Contract made its presentation at Kinetic the same day. "It was a presentation for the entire 'Small Wheels' portfolio," reveals Rajiv Sabnis, senior vice-president, Contract Advertising. Incidentally, at Kinetic, 'Small Wheels' stands for scooterettes and scooters; 'Big Wheels' means motorcycles and mopeds (manufactured by Kinetic Engineering). "We were asked to present a communication approach on two new brands that are to be launched in the market in the coming month - one, a scooter brand, the other a scooterette. The presentation was primarily to evaluate the communication strategy and creative approach."

agencyfaqs! has learnt that this movement was not preceded by any 'big pitch', although there were six-to-seven agencies "in the consideration set, in the preliminary stages". The actual presentation was limited to Contract and FCB-Ulka. "We decided to go with these two looking at their capabilities, the brands they handle and their strategic strengths," Kapila informs.

The picture that emerges in the wake of this decision is something like this. Zing, the new scooterette brand is with Contract, while scooter brand Nova is with FCB-Ulka. However, no decision has been taken on Kinetic's existing 'active' brands, ZX and Zoom. What we do know is that these are not with Mudra any longer, and there will be "an integration of sorts with one of the two agencies, somewhere in the near future", according to Kapila. For the record, the motorcycle account (including the Challenger and the GF125 brands) continues to be with Grey Worldwide. And the AOR continues to be Madison Media.

Vis-à-vis spends, the picture isn't very clear so far. While the company pegs the ad budget of scooters at Rs 25 crore and that of the Zing at Rs 10 crore. "The spends will be big because they are new brands, and overall, we need an image uplift in the market," explains Kapila. "The entire communication process will involve a lot of events as well." Incidentally, Kinetic had announced the launch of the 4-stroke, autogeared, 115-cc Nova in Delhi in January this year, with a Rs 10-crore advertising budget.

The reasons for Kinetic settling for Contract and FCB-Ulka are not far to find. Both agencies have a history of dealing with two-wheeler brands. While FCB-Ulka had been in charge of the LML account for a very long time (LML finally moved its Rs 8-10 crore scooters account to Enterprise Nexus in April this year), Contract was once a Bajaj Auto mainstay.

Being a weekend, agencyfaqs! was not able to get through to FCB-Ulka for an official comment. Contract's Sabnis, however, admits that the Bajaj experience helped. "Our credentials on Bajaj scooterettes (Sunny Zip, Spirit and Rave), our experience on youth brands such as NIIT, Chiclets and Cadbury Picnic, and our ability to produce clutter-breaking creative work… I think this is why the client moved this part of the account to us. This, and, of course, the strength of our presentation." He adds that Contract was actively looking for two-wheeler business, "and Kinetic seemed to be a great opportunity. It will help take our learnings on Bajaj forward. Two-wheelers is an exciting category, and we didn't want to be left out of the action."

Sabnis also informs that the primary challenge for Kinetic (and Contract) comes from TVS brand Scooty. "Scooty is firmly entrenched in the scooterettes category," he says. "Our primary task would be to win over prospective Scooty customers. The category has seen slow growth, and very few new offerings. It is the right time to infuse some excitement with a fresh and vibrant offering from the Kinetic stable." He doesn't, however, reveal anything more about Kinetic's performance in the category.

Neither does he say much about the agency's recommendations to Kinetic on strategy/communication. "Since we presented on both scooterettes and scooters, it would be difficult to give you an idea in a nutshell," he says evasively. "All I can say is both are new brands, and quite exciting in styling and value-for-money. Anyway, the campaigns will be out shortly, so the wait is not long. Our brand launch could be in a few weeks."

He also credits the client for a very precise brief. "They shared a lot of research and product information. We got to test-ride the vehicles. And the decision also came fast - as promised. It was refreshing to interact with a very open client."

Well begun is half done, they say. One sincerely hopes it applies to all the concerned parties here. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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