Sumita Vaid

Madison Creative gets Amtrex AC business

Madison Creative has won the Rs 5-crore advertising account of the Amtrex air-conditioner brand from Amtrex Hitachi Appliances

Madison Creative has won the Rs 5-crore advertising account of the Amtrex air-conditioner (AC) brand from Amtrex Hitachi Appliances Ltd (AHA, a joint venture between Lalbhai Group company Amtrex and Hitachi Appliances of Japan). According to Madison Creative executive director Prabha Prabhu, the acquisition is not a result of a pitch, but a cold call by the agency. It seems before taking on Madison as its full-time agency, AHA handed a small project to the agency. Apparently, "…the client was impressed with our work and decided to award the advertising business to Madison Creative", says Prabhu.

Just before handing the advertising account to Madison, all brand communication of Amtrex was being done in-house by AHA. Prior to that, Amtrex was with Mudra Communications, Ahmedabad, for about five years. In 1998, AHA decided to part ways with Mudra - not because there was an inherent problem in the relationship but because the company's priorities had changed by the late nineties.

Recapitulating the events, Anil Gupta, head marketing & new business development, AHA, says, "The JV between Amtrex and Hitachi was forged in 1999. And that was the time when we launched Hitachi in India. Though Hitachi as a name had tremendous awareness in India, the association of Hitachi with consumer durables was absent. Our key task then was to build that association and our money and efforts were directed towards that end. Therefore Amtrex had to be pushed to the back burner."

It is obvious Gupta has high regard for the work done by Mudra. "Mudra had done some memorable campaigns on Amtrex. It is Mudra that positioned Amtrex on the ‘power of silence' platform. It may be a coincidence, but Daikin today has occupied the slot Amtrex vacated," he adds.

AHA now plans to go aggressive on Amtrex, though its ad budget is less than half that of the Hitachi brand, which spent between Rs 12 crore to Rs 15 crore last year. Again, just like Hitachi in its early days, Amtrex's advertising will be print-led to begin with. Gupta elaborates, "When Hitachi was launched the budget was modest and the advertising was print-led. It was only in the second year that television was considered. Amtrex is at stage one. Also, we are looking at a new marketplace. Thus, along with print, we would be aggressive on below-the-line activities. These would include interacting with the consumers and the trade." In due course the company plans to look at television to promote Amtrex.

Now that Amtrex and Hitachi would be rivals in the AC market, will this turn into another case of sibling rivalry? "No," retorts Gupta. "Both the brands have different value propositions and they appeal to different sets of people. While Hitachi is for an evolved buyer - one who has been using ACs for some time - Amtrex is for those who are looking to graduate from coolers to ACs and want the best from an Indian brand."

And the best is what Madison Creative hopes to offer Amtrex. Though Amtrex has been lying low, it enjoys a strong equity in the Indian market. This observation is based on consumer feedback gathered by Madison during the course of a recent survey. "There are two target groups that AC marketers reach out to. One, who are slightly skewed towards MNC brands, and two, those who believe in Indian brands and look for reliability and durability in a brand. And what we found was that people were really proud to be Amtrex owners," says Prabhu.

Which is why Amtrex is being repositioned as ‘My Lifetime AC'. "Indians want something solid and rugged," adds Gupta. The brand communication harps on the functional benefits of the air-conditioner - such as savings in terms of power, intelligence, durability, stunning looks and convenience. "The print campaign, which will break this weekend, is going to be a testimonial campaign. It will show people feeling happy about Amtrex," says Prabhu.

With the summer setting in in full blast, AHA has sprung into action. Last month the company launched 14 new models in the window AC and split AC segments. The full range includes window ACs that are with and without remote, and a whole new split AC range - a sleek indoor unit and a new look floor-ceiling mounted split AC unit, ranging from 1.0 tonne to 4 tonne.

Gupta is positive that armed with a new marketing and communication strategy Amtrex will make a big dent in the AC market. "It has survived competition without media support. Last year, Amtrex grew by 30 per cent, when the room AC segment recorded nominal growth with Carrier losing market share, Voltas staying stagnant, and Videocon remaining a fringe player." This year the company is expecting Amtrex sales to go up by 25 per cent. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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