It was a long and anxious wait. And what emerged proved a big surprise.
The agency that started off as the dark horse in the fray for the Rs 7-8-crore WagonR account, has clinched the estimated Rs 12-15 crore advertising accounts of Maruti's flagship brand Maruti 800 and Zen. This business was with Rediffusion DY&R, Delhi.
agencyfaqs! made several calls to Maruti and Hakuhodo Percept to confirm the development. The concerned officials, however, refused to comment. To put things in perspective, the Maruti business till recently was split among three agencies. Lowe handled Alto, Baleno, Esteem, Omni and Versa; Rediffusion DY&R had Maruti 800 and Zen; and Capital Advertising handled the True Value (automobile finance) account as well as the corporate advertising and N2N (fleet management service) businesses.
The pitch for WagonR was kicked off in August when Saatchi & Saatchi, the agency handling the account, picked up competitive brand Hyundai's Santro. Two weeks on, in the final round of the WagonR pitch, there were three agencies - O&M, Contract Advertising and Hakuhodo Percept - down from six (O&M, TBWAAnthem, Mudra Communications, chlorophyll, Contract Advertising, Hakuhodo Percept) vying for the business.
Maruti 800 and Zen are real big news for Hakuhodo Percept. While the exact status of the presentation process is not known, one theory doing the rounds is that the 'Japanese' connection to an extent is instrumental in swinging the decision in Hakuhodo Percept's favour. After the Government of India sold its stake in Maruti to Suzuki, Suzuki has complete control of the automobile company's India operations. And in Japan, the Suzuki account is with Hakuhodo Japan, which in India is present in a partnership with Percept. While this could have been an influencing factor, ascribing the win to the Japanese connection would be undermining the efforts put in by Hakuhodo Percept.
However, a few loose ends remain. Topmost is the fate of WagonR. The presentation revolved around WagonR, but Ravi Bhatia, general manager, marketing, Maruti, had indicated earlier that the shortlisted agency could expect more. Now things appear a little unclear on that front. Will it go to one of the roster agencies, or will Maruti settle for a new agency partner for WagonR? Hope there are no surprises here too.
All the speculation can be put to rest only if the company officials consent to talk. Till then, watch this space… Â© 2002 agencyfaqs!