AirTel puts media business under review

By , agencyfaqs! | In | April 13, 2004
Sources reveal that the AirTel media pitch might be aimed at merging the media buying and planning functions and consolidating the entire AOR with one agency

Next to everybody in Delhi's media fraternity is talking about it, but in very hushed tones. Naturally, considering it's a hugely coveted business in the city. We're talking about the high-profile media pitch of GSM mobile phone service provider, AirTel, part of Bharti Cellular Limited. According to sources close to the company, three to four agencies are in the fray for the estimated Rs 50-60 crore media duties (both planning and buying), but the names of the hopefuls could not be conclusively ascertained. When contacted, the company spokesperson declined from sharing particulars.

The impression one gets from speaking to the company is that the media agency evaluation is part of an ongoing process - a periodic evaluation done with a view to get better options, improve bottomlines and buying et al. However, agencyfaqs! sources reveal that this particular pitch has clearly been called for with a very specific mandate in mind. Our sources indicate that the review is reflective of a shift in the thinking at AirTel. The rationale, they opine, is that the cellular service provider may be considering merging the two components of media - buying and planning - and thus consolidating the entire media business with one agency, as opposed to the two-agency arrangement being currently followed. Till now, the media buying and planning functions were being treated as two separate businesses, with Carat India in charge of the buying function, while planning was the responsibility of The Media Edge (TME). For the record, the creative duties of AirTel are with Rediffusion | DYR.

While the AOR review has undoubtedly been a protracted affair, our faithful sources reveal that the company is not very far from taking a decision. It remains to be seen whether or not AirTel does merge the buying and planning functions as speculated, or whether it decides to continue with the two-agency format. The next week or two should throw up some interesting answers. Rest assured, we'll keep you posted on the developments. © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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