Alokananda Chakraborty

St Luke's wins Dilmah Tea's creative duties; breaks into Dabur club

St Luke’s India has won the creative account of Sri Lankan premium tea brand Dilmah, which is in the process of being launched in the country

St Luke's India has won the creative account of Sri Lankan premium tea brand Dilmah, which is in the process of being launched in the country. The Dilmah brand - which is pegged as ‘Ceylon's freshest and finest tea' - is owned by Sri Lanka's MJF Group, and is reputed to be the third-largest tea brand in the world. The brand is being rolled out in India by Dilmah India in a marketing and distribution alliance with Dabur Foods, a subsidiary of Dabur India.

Confirming the agency's appointment on the brand, Anil Nair, senior vice-president, St Luke's India, told agencyfaqs! that the decision to award St Luke's with the creative duties was taken jointly by Dabur, Dilmah India and Dilmah Colombo (Sri Lanka). For the record, the media duties for the brand will be handled by Carat India. While Nair declined from sharing information on spends, given the nature and competitiveness of the local tea market, industry sources peg the account in the vicinity of Rs 4 crore.

agencyfaqs! has learnt that the Dilmah account came to St Luke's on the back of a four-agency pitch held way back in December 2002 (the decision on the pitch was taken much later, however). As per available information, the other agencies in the fray were Dhar & Hoon, Contract Advertising and SSC&B. Explaining how the agency won the account, Nair says, "Ever since our launch in India, we had been in touch with Dabur for new business, and as a result, we were invited to pitch for Dilmah. We made a presentation to Dabur and Dilmah India, and the presentations of all the contending agencies were then taken to Colombo. The client informs us that Dilmah Colombo immediately picked our work. It was a unanimous decision." He cites the agency's "understanding of the brand" and "the quality of creatives" as reasons for bagging the business.

What is also of significance here is the fact that St Luke's has achieved an entry into the Dabur roster. Could this be a way of gaining access to other Dabur businesses? "We haven't had any conversation to that effect, and Dabur is very happy with its existing agencies," Nair is noncommittal, choosing rather to focus on the current win. He does, however, admit that the Dilmah win is "a beginning".

Speaking about the brand, Nair says that "the secret of Dilmah's global success lies in the owners' passion to sell the finest tea, and their close involvement with everything related to the brand. Obviously, they wanted to see the same passion and involvement from their agency." Nair reveals that the first (launch) stage of work on the brand is over, and will hit media over the coming week. He adds that the second phase of the campaign is also ready, and will break in a few months. Commenting on the media, he says that the campaign would primarily focus on print, outdoor and retail visibility. "Dilmah is one of the most premium tea brands in the world, and that is something that the work and the media preference will adequately reflect," he says.

For more on Dilmah's plans on the Indian tea market, keep watching this space… © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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