Luggage major VIP Industries has appointed Leo Burnett's Mumbai office to handle the advertising for its mass-market luggage brand, VIP Alfa. The decision comes in the wake of a five-agency pitch that involved Lowe, O&M, Mudra Communications, incumbent JWT India and, of course, Burnett. The size of the account is not known, but past spends indicate that the account should be worth at least Rs 4-5 crore in annualized billing.
Confirming the news to agencyfaqs!, Aniruddha Banerjee, executive director, Leo Burnett India, said, "It is official - we have won the VIP Alfa account." He clarifies that the agency has won only the Alfa brand, which, in effect, means that the advertising for the other VIP luggage brands (such as Elanza, Polaris, Platinum, Maxima, Tuxedo and Atlantis) continue to be with JWT. For the record, JWT handles the bulk of VIP's luggage portfolio (including recently launched youth brand, Footloose), although rumour has it that the entire portfolio may soon be put under the scanner.
Whatever be the veracity of that one, this latest development implies is that VIP Industries is splitting its luggage portfolio into two. Confirming this, Banerjee says, "The task we have been entrusted with is to create a standalone brand called Alfa which will live independent of VIP. There is a strategic need at VIP to create such a standalone brand." According to industry watchers, VIP has good reason to act along these lines, given certain peculiarities in the domestic luggage market. In India, luggage, as a category, has dramatic range when it comes to price. Suitcases, for instance, start at the Rs-300 price point and extend all the way up to Rs 5,000. The opinion is that VIP, as a brand, was finding it increasingly difficult to straddle both ends of the market. It is felt that a mass-market brand such as Alfa was taking away from VIP's premium lustre, while the 'VIP' prefix to Alfa was becoming a bit of a handicap in the price-sensitive mass market.
Alfa, it may be recalled, is one of VIP's more advertised brands - certainly when it comes to television advertising. While brands such as Elanza, Tuxedo and Atlantis have been quite visible in print and outdoor, Alfa is remembered from the 'bahu' ad that has been running for the past two years. The ad, which was about a bride suffering acute embarrassment in the presence of her husband's extended family, pitched Alfa as a more reliable substitute for the 'saadharan suitcase'.
How Burnett will take Alfa's proposition forward remains to be seen. Banerjee, for one, is confident. "I think we have cracked an insight that was waiting to be cracked," he says, without revealing anything more. "The work that we had presented to the client will probably run as is (it transpires that the work is already into research stage), which, I think, says a thing or two about the strength of our strategy and insight."
Naturally, Banerjee is also thrilled at having got past some strong competition. "It feels very good," he says. "We have done some good work for VIP (Blow Plast) in the past, and we will try and do even better on this one."
© 2003 agencyfaqs!First Published : February 27, 2003