NEW DELHI, Aug 24
The advertising account of the Yamaha YBX-125 model motorcycle has moved from Headstart Advertising, Delhi, to TBWA Anthem, Delhi. Anthem was awarded the account 10 days ago, following a multi-agency pitch. According to unconfirmed reports, the other agencies that were in the fray included McCann-Erickson, Mudra, Enterprise Nexus, R K Swamy/BBDO and incumbent Headstart.
Although the YBX-125 account has shifted to Anthem, there is nothing to indicate that Headstart is being divested of the other Yamaha accounts. Neither has Yamaha Motor Escorts Ltd (YMEL) made any moves to suggest that any of its future launches will automatically go Anthem's way. The size of the YBX-125 account is not available.
"We had been invited for the pitch approximately three weeks ago," informs Sanjay Nayak, president & COO, TBWA Anthem. For YMEL, the pitch was essentially a test of strategy, creative, media and research skills to identify an agency that could shoulder the responsibility of setting the two-year-old YBX-125 in the right direction.
"We have been told that we were awarded the account because of the consistency of our recommendations through the entire process," reveals Nayak. "Also, they (YMEL) saw a lot of maturity among the individuals who represented Anthem, and they also felt that we best understood the dynamics of the motorcycle category."
The category is one of the fastest growing in the automotive sector, and all the existing players - and a host of new entrants - are joining the hunt for market shares. And YMEL finally appears to have woken up to this fact. Which is rather ironic for a brand that once represented 'bike' in the Indian consumer's mind.
YMEL has allowed itself to be overtaken in the bike race, feels an industry source. "While Hero Motors, Bajaj Auto and TVS-Suzuki were innovating in terms of engine capacity and styling, YMEL was content producing solid but uninspiring models," he says. Today, Yamaha has been elbowed out of the 'image' zone by the CBZ and the Fiero. "Imagine, the most respected and sought-after Yamaha model is the 15-year-old RX 100."
Which, in many ways, explains YMEL predicament in India. The company started out with a product that it finds hard to emulate. It is stuck with a brand perception that just refuses to die. And consumers wouldn't care for anything from the Yamaha stables that doesn't have the word 'power' stamped all over it.
"The primary problem for Yamaha is the impending stoppage of production of 2-stroke bikes, a segment where the company has big stakes," says Nayak. "For us, the task would be to ensure the transfer of all that 2-stroke equity into the 4-stroke segment, I suppose." The YBX-125 is, incidentally, a 4-stroke bike.
Perhaps Yamaha, which recently upped its stake in the JV to 76 per cent, has realized the need to get its branding into focus. So this pitch and the realignment. It remains to be seen what Anthem does for YMEL. The fresh agency briefing is slotted for next week.
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