Retail store chain Shoppers' Stop has handed Equus Red Cell the mandate of launching the Shoppers' Stop brand in Kolkata through its first store in the eastern metropolis. The development signals the WPP Group-agency's entry into the retail brand's roster - which hitherto comprised just Contract Advertising, which had launched the brand in the country. For the record, Contract continues to be Shoppers' Stop's principal agency, but "all further communication in Kolkata will be Equus' prerogative", clarifies Swapan Seth, co-CEO & chief creative officer, Equus Red Cell.
Attributing reasons for awarding this part of the business to Equus (instead of going with long-standing agency, Contract) Ajay Kelkar, head - marketing, Shoppers' Stop told agencyfaqs!, "We were looking to connect with customers in a city with a great heritage. We knew the task was different. The focus was to create brand connect opportunities in a variety of non-traditional ways, and, in fact, envelope the consumer through a 360-degree approach. We felt that Equus brought such an approach to the table."
The decision to go with Equus was taken on the back of a pitch, the details of which are not known. Interestingly, Seth reveals that Equus had been eyeing the account for a while. "We were active suitors for some months," he says. "I was told that Shoppers' was a tough client, and that seemed so seductive." He adds that Equus' chances had hinged on a strategic pitch "that centered around what we had done for Coca-Cola, and our understanding of the consumer there". To put it in context, Equus had previously handled the Coke account for the Eastern region (before the agency had shut its Kolkata office), and had created one of the most cogent Coke commercials (exclusively for the Bengali consumer) in the cola brand's pre-Thanda history in India.
Coming back to Shoppers' Stop, Seth, speaking about the communication challenges, says, "I think a thorough understanding of the consumer and culturescape, and aligning them to the kernel of Shoppers' Stop is vital. The task really is to install a national brand in a local throne. I think great brands are fillings in cultural cavities. If we can make that happen with Shoppers' in Kolkata, it will be a life well lived. We wish Shoppers' to be the preferred brand in the mind there." For the record, all the work on Shoppers' Stop is being done out of the agency's Mumbai and Delhi offices.
When asked about the nature of the communication that has been planned for the brand, Seth says a lot without really revealing anything. "I can say this with complete candour. This is a big launch, thought out furiously. Yet, ultimately, consumers write out report cards." He is not willing to comment upon spends. Incidentally, when the Kolkata store is being opened is also confidential.
The win is, arguably, a big boost for Equus, considering this is the first occasion in which Shoppers' Stop has gone with an agency other than Contract. "This is hugely prestigious," Seth agrees. "Retail is rocking, and among retail brands, this is the czar. That aside, Equus, historically, is great with multi-agency situations. We are quick to create competitive dissonance, and we will." © 2003 agencyfaqs!