N. Shatrujeet

Ambience adds new business worth Rs 35 crore; wins include Add Pens, Hit, Elf

In addition to the Opel Astra and Playwin gains, Ambience D’Arcy has recently acquired the advertising accounts of Add Pens, insecticide brand Hit, lube brand Elf and Nutrela

In the wake of "a huge new-business drive", Ambience D'Arcy has added a host of advertising accounts to its portfolio over the past month or so, helping the agency up annualized billing by an estimated Rs 35 crore. The agency, which closed year 2001 with capitalized billing of Rs 145 crore, has picked up the accounts of Add Pens, household insecticide brand Hit, lube brand Elf and ‘soya chunks' brand Nutrela. In addition to these, the agency has also acquired the account of General Motors' luxury car brand Opel Astra, and the advertising business for Playwin Infravest's soon-to-be-launched lottery games of the Government of Maharashtra (both reported on agencyfaqs! earlier).

Speaking about the wins to agencyfaqs!, Nakul Chopra, president, Ambience D'Arcy Advertising, said, "We have been very aggressive on the new business front for some time now. And we have been able to successfully demonstrate our strengths and capabilities to clients across categories, which explains all these wins. I am very thrilled with what we, as an agency, have managed these past six months."

The Add Pens account has come to the agency following a multi-way pitch, although the identities of the other contenders are not known. The account, which was earlier with Prachar, is valued at roughly Rs 7 crore. Interestingly, this is the first time that the writing instruments company has tapped a big, national agency for advertising solutions. This is also the second instance of a homegrown pen manufacturer moving business to a big agency - earlier this year, Rotomac had moved its Rs 5-6-crore account to Mudra Communications.

"Yes, the pen industry is certainly turning to big agencies for brand building," Chopra agrees. "And yes, the category needs some improvement in advertising. But let me add that these people have done some things right in the past. How else can you explain the recall these brands - especially Add - generate?" There is little doubt that the Add brand has made an impression on mindspace, especially in the fast-growing gel-ink pen category. In fact, Add Pens' flagship brand, ADD Gel, enjoys immense top-of-mind, and is even synonymous with the category. Add's other popular pen brand is ADD Diamond, a roller pen.

More recently, in an effort to ply the volumes market, the company has launched two ball pen brands, Aspire and Sprint. Interestingly, ball pens constitute more than 50 per cent of all pen sales in this country. "In India, pens are young in the category lifecycle, and it is a hugely commoditized market," says Chopra. "The youth form the bulk of the consumers, and brand loyalty is very low. This affects everything from product design to communication. However, Add has great products, and is very serious about brand building. That's why they have come to us. And I must add they are wonderful clients, pushing us to give our best." Incidentally, the first ads for Aspire and Sprint have just gone on air.

On the Hit win, Chopra reveals that the account was awarded to the agency following the alignment of mosquito repellant brand Good Knight with HTA (both Hit and Good Knight are Godrej Sara Lee brands). "After the pitch on Good Knight, Godrej consolidated that brand with HTA, and awarded us with Hit," says Chopra, adding that all Hit brands (including Hitlines, the ‘marker' insecticide) are with Ambience. Hit is essentially retailed in the ‘delivery form' of aerosols. For the record, Godrej Sara Lee is the market leader in the Rs 500-crore household insecticide market, with a market share of approximately 40 per cent. Apart from Good Knight and Hit, Banish and Jet are the other insecticide brands in Godrej's portfolio. "Godrej has substantial growth plan for Hit in the near future," Chopra reveals.

Nutrela, the soya chunks brand from Ruchi Soya Industries, has been out of the media for quite some time now. As it transpires, the account landed on Ambience's lap following a query routed through Mumbai-based Samsika Marketing Consultants. "Jagdeep (Kapoor, managing director, Samsika) had referred the client to us, and we subsequently pitched for the business and got it," says Chopra. He adds that the brand is currently at a "research stage" and "the findings will dictate our plans for the brand".

Revealing details about the Elf win (the account moves from Bates India), Chopra says that the win was the result of a pitch. Again, details are not available. "This is a hugely challenging account as the lube market in India is in the midst of a strange dynamic," he says. In this country, the sale of lubes has traditionally happened at the petrol pumps of state-owned oil firms. Naturally, these pumps stock only the lube brands of their respective owners - an impediment for private lube brands. However, with New Age cars coming onto the roads, the focus of oil checks and maintenance has shifted from the petrol pump to either the dealer or the service centre, providing a window of opportunity to private players. But, at the same time, brands also need to fight low consumer involvement. "I think the real task here is to communicate to a consumer who is not interested in listening to you," Chopra sums up. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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