N. Shatrujeet

Ambience on a Marico high; focus on planning and knowledge

As part of Marico Industries’ recent realignment of businesses, Ambience Publicis has acquired the advertising accounts of Parachute shampoos and Revive starch

Twelve days ago, when Marico Industries announced its decision to consolidate the advertising accounts of Saffola, Shanti Amla and Mediker with McCann-Erickson India, media attention naturally fell on McCann, the agency being the beneficiary of three new accounts that gave it incremental billing to the tune of Rs 20 crore or thereabouts. However, in a related but less-publicized development, Marico had simultaneously consolidated some other businesses with its roster agency, Ambience Publicis. These include the Parachute shampoo account (which was with Orchard Advertising) and the Revive Spray Starch account (which was with Grey Worldwide). In fact, during the course of confirming McCann's appointment to agencyfaqs!, Saugata Gupta, head of marketing at Marico, had mentioned that under the new two-agency structure, all the businesses aligned to Ambience constituted "the larger chunk", in terms of advertising spends.

Speaking to agencyfaqs! about that the implications of this development for his agency, Subhash Kamath, COO, Ambience-Publicis, says, "With these new businesses, our entire Marico portfolio has increased. The entire Parachute franchise, which now includes shampoos, has been aligned to us, and we have also acquired instant starch brand, Revive. Plus there are some developmental products under Hair & Care that we have been awarded, and we also have cooking oil, Sweekar (which the agency won early last year). It is a bit premature to talk about spends, but I can say that the new accounts have contributed to a substantial increase in the size of the Marico portfolio."

Ambience, incidentally, has been working on the Parachute and Hair & Care accounts for over six years now, and Kamath believes the agency has a great equation going with Marico. "The Marico brands that are with us are doing exceptionally well in the market, and our work has been appreciated by the client," he says. "In fact, proof of the solidity of the relationship is that none of the brands we handle was put up for review." For the record, the creative pitch that finally went McCann's way was only for Saffola (which was with Grey), Shanti Amla (which was with Orchard) and Mediker (which was with Triton Communications). And the Parachute shampoo and Revive accounts have come to Ambience without a pitch, Kamath adds. "The client had a two-agency plan in mind, which is why we were not part of the creative pitch for Shanti, Saffola and Mediker. Parachute shampoos, being a part of Parachute, came to us, while they simply moved Revive to us." He adds that the test marketing of Parachute shampoo is over, and that the agency will be inducted into the account "within a week, so that we can start work on taking the brand forward".

New business development, Kamath reveals, is not the only interesting thing happening at Ambience. "The big move here is investments in the area of planning and knowledge management," he says. "Agencies need to be business partners and not just advertising partners to their clients, and Ambience is now working from a holistic business perspective to help deliver solutions to its clients. We are looking at making points of consumer contact outside mainline advertising. We also realize that consumer insights are not limited to category insights, which is why we are looking at insights from social and cultural contexts. We are looking at consumer evolution more as the evolution of human beings, which is why our investments into strategic insights are deeper and broader in scope."

Kamath reveals that the agency has, over the past eight months, added five professionals in strategic planning. The group is headed by Partha Sinha, executive vice-president, strategic planning, Ambience Publicis. "We have also added two people exclusively for knowledge management," says Kamath. "In the coming year, we will be investing money into understanding various aspects of the consumer's life. The objective is that we will not come with advertising solutions alone, but with true knowledge, which will be our key driver." © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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