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Lowe Personal wins Tata AIG from Thompson Direct

Lowe Personal has won part of Tata AIG’s advertising account. While it will handle the non-mass media part of the business, HTA will take care of the insurance company’s mass-media advertising

Lowe Personal, the new-born, non-mass media division of Lowe Lintas & Partners, has won Tata AIG's non-mass media advertising account. The news was conveyed to the new agency last week. Till then, Lowe Personal was handling "only some part of the Tata AIG business," according to Chandradeep Mitra, president, Lowe Personal, the rest being with Thompson Direct, the direct-marketing arm of HTA. Though Mitra maintains silence on the size of the account, observers say it could be as big as Rs 10 crore. The Rs 125-crore general insurance company's mass media account remains with HTA.

This is a big win for an outfit barely a month old. Lowe Personal came into being with the merger of Lintas' two former divisions - Lintas Direct and Lowe Interactive. Lintas Direct faced a peculiar problem sometime late last year when former head, Raj Bhatia, announced his decision to venture out on his own. Subsequently, a large chunk of the team disbanded to either follow him or pursue other interests. At the same time, the dot-com bust and a changing environment may have made Lintas realise a bigger potential in Lowe Interactive by making it work in sync with Direct. That is, Lowe Lintas for mass media advertising, and Lowe Personal for non-mass media communications.

Lowe Personal, therefore, started with existing clients - Levers, Maruti, SOTC, Britannia and Tata AIG. Given the spate of departures, Lowe Personal saw a fresh infusion of talent at the top. While Hanuwant Singh came from Euro RSCG Direct a month back, Manas Mohan, formerly vice-president (marketing) with, took over as head of Mumbai operations recently. Mitra, formerly head of Lowe Interactive, assumed the mantle of president. Headcount stands at 24, including the two offices at Mumbai and Delhi. Given the importance of the Britannia account, Personal may start operations in Bangalore soon, says Mitra.

With its staff in place, Personal is working at becoming a CRM (customer-relationship management) company, in the words of Mitra. "But CRM from the communications perspective," Mitra hastens to add. This comprises (customer) insight, (customer) involvement and integration (with all media options). The vision was borne out of the analysis of the CRM market. It had three kinds of vendors - strategy, technology and fulfilment (call centres and the like). While Mitra is clear Personal won't contribute in the technology and fulfilment space directly, he does see an overlap in the strategy end with top-end CRM consultants. "While the McKinseys of the world would focus on overall corporate strategy in the CRM context, we stick to the customer end only," he clarifies.

To provide a comprehensive communications-led CRM solution with non-mass media options, Lowe Personal has also gone ahead and struck a formal understanding with Accenture (formerly Anderson Consulting). "We have agreed to work together even at the pre-pitching stage," reveals Mitra. The $9.8-billion Accenture is among the world's leading providers of management and technology consulting services and solutions. This may be reminiscent of Starcom's recent tie-up with PriceWaterhouseCoopers to launch some e-biz initiatives. Under one of its big CRM initiatives, Lowe Personal is getting ready to launch India's largest circulated English magazine. Watch this space for more.

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