Maruti Udyog has appointed Contract Advertising to handle the creative duties of its soon-to-be launched sports utility vehicle (SUV) Grand Vitara. Disclosing the news to agencyfaqs!, Ravi Bhatia, general manager, marketing, Maruti Udyog, said, "The vehicle will be launched sometime this year, but it is too soon to talk about the advertising budget or the positioning." For the record, all four club agencies of Maruti (Contract, Lowe, Capital and Hakuhodo Percept) pitched for the Vitara business.
Contract executives are most happy. Says Mohit Hira, senior vice-president, Contract Advertising, Delhi, "It was a well-contested pitch and we are grateful to Maruti for entrusting a second brand with us within six months. We have a great product and a challenge ahead."
Post the latest bout of realignment, the agency combination of Maruti stands like this. Lowe will handle Alto, Baleno, Esteem, Omni and Versa; Hakuhodo Percept carries on with Maruti 800 and Zen; and Capital Advertising will continue to handle the True Value (automobile finance) account as well as the corporate advertising and N2N (fleet management service) businesses of Maruti; and Contract will be in charge of Grand Vitara besides WagonR. The AOR for print is Initiative Media, while Madison Media will continue to handle media planning and buying on television.
While Maruti officials refused to talk about the date of launch, industry sources insist "it would be sooner than later". Maruti recently received approvals from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to import and sell the vehicle in the country. Vitara will be imported through the completely built unit (CBU) route and be the most expensive vehicle from the stable of Maruti. Bhatia indicated that the company is looking at a Rs 20-lakh price point.
So far, Hindustan Motors has launched the Mitsubishi Pajero and Mercedes Benz, its M-Class utility vehicles, in the Indian market through the CBU route. These vehicles are priced at over Rs 33 lakh and about Rs 50 lakh, respectively. Chevrolet's Forester, which was launched by General Motors recently, will also be imported. This brand is priced at Rs 15.5 lakh.
Contract an look forward to more competition in the SUV segment now. Beginning with the launch of the Hyundai Terracan earlier this year, other SUVs expected to cruise the Indian roads this year include Honda's CR-V, General Motors Isuzu Panther (which may be re-badged under the Chevrolet brand), Fiat's Doblo and the Toyota Prado Landcruiser, among others.
The Grand Vitara will be positioned as a 'luxury' SUV, and no, it won't come with the double barrel Maruti-Suzuki badge, but only Suzuki. © 2003 agencyfaqs!