Sumita Vaid

Leo Burnett, Starcom to share Rs 20 cr-Aircel account

Contract Advertising, Capital Advertising and Fountainhead were the other three creative agencies in the running for the account

It has been great going for Leo Burnett, Delhi. After Tetra Pak and Godfrey Phillips' Four Square, the agency has now bagged the creative duties of South India-based cellular operator Aircel.

The media part of the account has gone to Starcom, Delhi. The total size of the business is pegged between Rs 15-20 crore.

Confirming the development, Biswajit Pandey, marketing head, Aircel, says, “We decided to partner with Leo Burnett because its proposed strategy was in complete sync with Aircel's launch plans.”

What also worked in Leo Burnett’s favour was the Congress ad campaign it did last year. Working on the political campaign gave Leo Burnett insights into consumer behaviour of those living in upcountry areas. “And these are Aircel’s prospective customers. Thus, Leo Burnett’s understanding of the upcountry consumer gave it an edge over the other contenders,” explains Pandey.

Naturally, Leo Burnett, Delhi, is thrilled about winning the business. Jayshree Sundar, executive director, Leo Burnett, says, “We are very excited about the win. The presentation process has been carrying on since October 2004, and finally it has reached fruition. It feels very good. We are also aware of the fact that Aircel is a challenger brand, but we are very confident that Leo Burnett, in partnership with Aircel, will achieve its objectives.”

Like Leo Burnett, even Starcom had to face much hardship to bag the Aircel account. Anita Nayyar, managing director, Starcom (north and east), says, “We had very tough competition, and that makes the win even sweeter. To my mind, the reason why we scored over the other players was because we were able to deliver as per the client's expectations.”

agencyfaqs! readers will no doubt recall that we had reported about Leo Burnett being the front-runner in the race for the Aircel account. That was on the last day of the year 2004. Contract Advertising, Capital Advertising and Fountainhead were the other three agencies in the running for the account. The news of the pitch was reported along with Pandey's appointment, who had moved from Dentsu Marcom.

Pandey is looking forward to working with Leo Burnett and Starcom, and there is no time to waste. The expansion plans are gigantic, considering that Aircel intends to launch its services in 10 regions of North India.

To begin with, Aircel would be targeting some of the areas in the B circle (Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh (West), Uttar Pradesh (East), West Bengal and Kerala) and the C circle (Assam, North East, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir). In that context, Pandey's mandate is to oversee the launch of Aircel's services in the two circles.

Clearly, the prime task is to create appropriate brand awareness for Aircel. And that is an uphill task, especially viewed against the fact that despite Aircel being a strong brand in the South, it has negligible or no recall in the North. Competition in the form of Airtel, and to an extent Hutch, who have considerable brand equity in the North, is another stumbling block that Leo Burnett and Aircel have to negotiate with.

Leo Burnett seems to be battle-ready with Sundar at the helm. “In spite of the presence of big players in Tamil Nadu and Chennai, Aircel is the biggest operator there. So our endeavour would be to duplicate this success in the 10 regions,” says a confident Sundar.

© 2005 agencyfaqs!

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