Roughly two months after paint major Asian Paints initiated a six-agency pitch for one part of its advertising account, the company has awarded the business to Contract Advertising. The decision was communicated to the agency yesterday. The brands/accounts that have been relocated with Contract are distemper brand Tractor, and emulsion brand Royale - both, brands that Contract has handled in the past. The combined size of the two businesses is 'guesstimated' to be in the vicinity of Rs 8-10 crore in annualized billing. For the record, a significant part of Asian Paints' communication portfolio - including the advertising for mother brand, Asian Paints - stays with O&M India.
Confirming the news to agencyfaqs!, Rajiv Sabnis, senior vice-president, Contract Advertising, said, "To begin with, we have been given the responsibility of handling Royale and Tractor, as there is an immediate communication requirement on the two brands." He is not, however, prepared to divulge anything more on the win, although he reveals that advertising for the brands should break in mainline media by August, with the onset of the festive season.
For Contract, the wins come in the wake of creative-cum-strategy presentations that took place in Mumbai last month. agencyfaqs! loyalists may recall that in mid-January, we had run a story on how Contract, McCann-Erickson India and St Luke's had been shortlisted for the final round of presentations, following credentials presentations by six agencies (Mudra Communications, Leo Burnett India and chlorophyll being the other three agencies). Back then, the exact nature of the business that was on the block was not clear, although it was believed that Tractor and Royale were at the core of the pitch. However, with large parts of the business staying with O&M, what had become clear was that Asian Paints was considering putting in place a two-agency structure.
Which, in itself, was quite surprising, considering the company had done away with the two-agency format and consolidated its businesses with O&M only in February 2001. (Interestingly, Tractor was one of the brands that had been consolidated in the process, and it had been Contract that had suffered the consequences of that decision.) The idea, back then, had been to focus the communication on building the mother brand (Asian Paints) and a few key brands.
So, why a re-look at the two-year-old communication strategy of focusing on the mother brand, one might ask. Asian Paints, for one, doesn't look at it as a change in strategy. "Asian Paints' brand portfolio will continue to emphasize on the mother brand, Asian Paints," KBS Anand, vice-president, sales & marketing, Asian Paints, told agencyfaqs!. "In brand building and communication terms, a lot of emphasis will be put on the same in the time to come." Explaining Contract's induction into the agency roster, he says, "Asian Paints wants to move to a two-agency setup. This decision prompted us to take a second agency on board." Anand too chose not to comment upon the communication objectives set before Contract.
Citing reasons for placing Tractor and Royale in Contract's charge, Anand says, "Contract was chosen out of the three selected agencies because it scored better than the others on an overall basis. The criteria used were planning ability, creative ability and the ability to generate integrated creative solutions that went beyond mass media." Sabnis, for his part, believes that "the quality of Contract's ideas and the quality of integration" played a big role in landing the account. "Also, the energy and excitement levels exhibited by the team worked in our favour," he says.
Excitement levels are palpable at the agency vis-à-vis the win. "The last time, we lost the business by default, as the client took a decision to focus on the mother brand," says Sabnis. "But it's always good to have an old client back. We all know that Asian Paints is a great brand, and I am happy the client has reposed his trust in us." With the win coming close on the heels of Close-up's loss (to O&M), Sabnis admits, "It's a great boost for the team." Â© 2003 agencyfaqs!