Sumita Vaid

Maruti hunting for a new agency partner

With Saatchi & Saatchi no longer a Maruti agency, the company is taking a long, hard look at its agency roster

"With Saatchi & Saatchi no longer a Maruti agency, we are looking at the existing as well as new agencies for our brands," says Ravi Bhatia, general manager, marketing, Maruti. After withdrawing the Rs 7-8 crore advertising account of the WagonR from Saatchi & Saatchi (which serviced the brand for two years), Maruti is on the prowl for a new agency not just for the WagonR but for its other cars as well. Or that's what Maruti executives would like us to believe.

According to the information available with agencyfaqs!, there are seven agencies in the running for the WagonR business. These include the three roster agencies - Lowe, which has the Alto, the Baleno, the Esteem, the Omni and the Versa; Rediffusion-DY&R, which has the Maruti 800 and the Zen; and Capital Advertising which handles the True Value (automobile finance) account as well as the corporate advertising and N2N (fleet management service) businesses. Of the four new suitors, the names of two are known - Contract Advertising and McCann Erickson. Maruti executives anticipate the number of suitors to go up.

It seems the agencies in the running have already been briefed about the company's requirements. And the requirement is: How to inject some excitement in the WagonR. Based on this key question, the agencies have been asked to make a strategy presentation. Though the brief is on WagonR, the winner can look forward to a richer haul. In other words, the company seems to have given them an indication that WagonR would be ‘part of a package'.

Interestingly, WagonR posted quite a strong performance last fiscal. Its sales grew by 31.2 per cent. (That is, the number of WagonRs sold in 2001-2002 was 25,167 compared to 19,180 In the year 2000-2001.) In fact, the brand has done well despite low-key advertising.

Agency sources indicate that agencies have yet to make the first presentation. While Maruti executives refuse to say when the whole process would be over, the next few weeks promise to be quite hectic for those looking to adorn the company's roster. © 2002 agencyfaqs!