Homegrown desktop PC manufacturer Zenith Computers has awarded the creative part of its advertising account to St Luke's India following a two-month long, multi-agency pitch that also involved, among others, Grey Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi India, Enterprise Nexus, Interface Communications and iB&W. St Luke's has been formally appointed to work on the business with effect from May 01. The PC marketer confirmed the development and all the particulars pertaining to the pitch to agencyfaqs! yesterday evening. "We took the decision of appointing St Luke's as our agency in end-April," says Devita Saraf, director of marketing, Zenith Computers, adding, "St Luke's will be our communications partner on both creative and strategy." For the record, the company's media buying is handled by Optimum Media Solutions (OMS).
Disclosing the reasons for throwing the business open for a pitch (incidentally, the creative account was previously with SSC&B), Saraf reveals that the evaluation process was set in motion as early as January 2004. "As a company, we always focus on doing new things and setting our own benchmarks based on market requirements, and even the agencies we choose to work with are selected on that basis," she says. Specific to Zenith's requirement this time round, Saraf says, "We wanted an agency that would partner us - in the true sense of the word - in our marketing and brand-building efforts. We did not want agencies that would treat the communication process as so many full page ads." She reveals that other than the agencies mentioned above, quite a few smaller agencies also made presentations. "Many agencies, some whom we had invited and some who came uninvited, pitched for the account."
The decision to finally go with St Luke's was based on the "aggression and commitment" that the agency exhibited during the pitch, Saraf reveals. "The recommendations of all the other agencies was on a similar line," she explains. "St Luke's, on the other hand, was not only different in its approach, it also displayed a quick turnaround time - something that is extremely critical in this industry. St Luke's was really good and really fast, and the team understood what this business was all about. We were looking for synergies from our partners in terms of doing something new in the market, and St Luke's appears to meet our expectations."
Speaking about the win, Anil Nair, senior vice-president, St Luke's India, says, "The pitch was intensely contested, and the final round was a head-to-head affair between us and Grey. We are very pleased to have won the account. I think we have been able to demonstrate to Zenith how we will walk with them to implement their vision and strategy." Nair reveals that the entire Zenith portfolio is now with St Luke's, but adds that his agency is working on the account on a fee basis. Purely for the record, as per market estimates, the size of the account is pegged in the region of Rs 8-9 crore (in capitalized billing). Explaining the agency's role in communication, he says, "Zenith Computers is planning a huge thrust forward in the market with a very serious focus on pushing brand value, and we have been entrusted with the mandate of carving out a distinct brand personality for Zenith."
Zenith Computers, by virtue of some extremely competitive pricing in the past, has always been a price leader in the domestic branded PC market. The price Zenith has had to pay, however, is that over time, it has acquired a typical 'price player' image, scoring low on the brand value and 'pride of ownership' parameters. And while the brand's value-for-money proposition worked in its favour at a time when most branded PCs were priced rather steeply, today, with the prices of branded desktops crashing dramatically (triggered largely by the boom in the home PC segment), Zenith's pricing advantage has ceased to exist.
Both Saraf and Nair admit that the new marketing objective is to put Zenith high on the PC buyer's consideration set by making it a "desired brand" in perception terms. "We want to build brand recall and consumer loyalty by cultivating a relationship with the consumer in the larger area of brand value," says Saraf. "We want Zenith to be the customer's favourite brand." She, however, adds that this would not happen at the cost of the brand's famed competitive pricing.
Nair maintains that while the task before the agency is to create an image makeover, the role of communication is also strongly linked to pushing sales. "While the purpose of the advertising is to ensure that brand image registers an upward swing, it will also have to help the company achieve the ambitious targets Zenith has set for itself in the market" he says. Saraf agrees. "We are looking at creating a stir in the market at the earliest, and our expectations from St Luke's are very high," she says. © 2004 agencyfaqs!