N. Shatrujeet

rmg david adds Cox & Kings creative; Zenith to handle media duties

rmg david has won the creative duties of the package tour operator following long-drawn pitch process that was set in motion nearly five months ago

WPP Group-agency rmg david has won the creative duties of package tour operator Cox & Kings, following long-drawn pitch process that was set in motion nearly five months ago. The three-stage pitch, which involved some five agencies (this website has been able to ascertain the identities of only two of the remaining contenders: ex-incumbent Enterprise Nexus and Mudra Communications), drew to a close in December 2003, with the client deciding to award the business to rmg. In a related move, Zenith Media has been appointed to handle the brand's media duties.

R Narayanan, COO, rmg david, confirmed the news of both appointments. "We have been appointed as the creative agency of Cox and Kings," he says. "And the client gave us the responsibility of selecting a media agency, and we had the option of working with MindShare, Maximize or Zenith (all GroupM Media companies). We weighed the possibilities and opportunities all three afforded, and decided on Zenith as our media partner on this account."

Speaking about the pitch, Narayanan informs that the presentations were "extremely methodical". He adds that while the first round of presentations were speculative in nature, from the second round onwards the agency was working on a specific brief - "almost as if we were the incumbent agency". Narayanan believes that it was the agency's ability to "understand the client's requirement and respond with passion" that worked in its favour. "I believe the client-agency relationship evolved beautifully during the past three months." He also reveals that the agency has already started work on the account, and that the work would be in the media very soon. "We have managed giving the work a creative treatment which is very refreshing and different from category advertising, but it still hardworking," he says.

Interestingly, rmg has already created a two-ad campaign for one of Cox & Kings' niche packages targeted at golf enthusiasts. The ads, which have broken in golfing magazine Golfline, have visuals of scenic tourist locations, with 18 holes randomly punched on the page. ‘There's a golf course in every holiday,' reads the headline. "The interesting thing was that the client told us that he has a premium product for golf enthusiasts which he needs to advertise, so we have an opportunity to make some award-winning work," smiles Josy Paul, country head & national creative director, rmg david. "The idea has been taken across media (postcards, posters and hoardings), and it sticks out because of its simplicity. It was a nice way of ending year 2003."

Creating advertising that sticks out is a caveat these days, but particularly so in the category that Cox & Kings operates in. Category advertising is characterized by pictures of well-known tourist destinations (and the landmarks each destination is best known by), and in most cases, brands and offers are almost interchangeable. "While there is no data to support this, there are instance where an ad released by one tour operator results in enquiries being generated at the offices of rival tour operators. Such is the extent of commoditization," remarks one keen observer of the tourism business. Further, given the competition in the category (while the main players in the tour operator business include Cox & Kings, SOTC, Thomas Cook, Raj Travels and Sita Travels, there exist innumerable regional brands that offer consumers value-for-money packages), it becomes imperative for Cox & Kings to differentiate itself through its advertising, while staying true to the consumer's expectations.

It follows that share-of-voice - especially in the crucial ‘holiday seasons' of May to July and October - is critical. Which raises the question of the kind of spends Cox & Kings is allocating for advertising this year. "The size of the business is something we don't have a fix on, as we have been told that we should not take last year's spends as a benchmark," Narayanan informs. "The client has asked us to work with open minds, and although there will be an upper limit on the ad budget, we have been assured that budgets will not be a constraint to doing effective advertising." © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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