N. Shatrujeet

rmg david strikes alliance with Batey Ads; bags Singapore Tourism account

rmg david has struck a “working alliance” with Singapore’s Batey Advertising to handle the India-specific advertising of the latter’s Singapore Tourism account

In a development that could, in the long run, prove to be a windfall for WPP Group-agency rmg david, the Indian agency has struck a "working alliance" with associate WPP agency Batey Advertising to handle the India-specific advertising of the latter's Singapore Tourism Board (STB) account. The Singapore-based agency - founded by creative stalwart Ian Batey, and best known for the long-standing ‘Singapore girl' campaign for Singapore International Airlines - is the global communications partner for Singapore Tourism.

agencyfaqs! has learnt Batey and Singapore Tourism initiated the process of finding a suitable Indian partner to handle the account way back in end-December, 2003. It is understood that Robert Kay (chief operating officer, Batey) and Rowena Bhagchandani (regional head of Singapore Tourism) came down to India towards the end of January this year, and are believed to have held discussions with over a dozen Indian agencies before finally deciding to go with rmg. "Batey does not have a representation in this country, but with India becoming an important market for Singapore Tourism, the agency requires a communications partner that can handle the Indian advertising for the brand," says R Narayanan, COO, rmg david. "The decision to work with rmg was taken by Mr Kay, Ms Bhagchandani and senior Singapore Tourism officials in India."

Speaking about the agency evaluation process, Josy Paul, country head & national creative director, rmg david, says, "It was a grueling session of interviews. However, the interesting thing was that this is perhaps the first time that a large, significant business has been given to an agency purely on the basis of the past work created by the agency. We did not present a single creative idea to the client. I think STB and Batey liked our capabilities, the ‘david' mindset, and the work we've done that reflects the ‘david way of thinking'."

rmg reveals that its role in the entire equation will not be limited to simply releasing Singapore Tourism ads in India. "India is an important market for STB, and while Singapore has historically been a holiday destination for Indians, STB wants to cultivate that relationship even better," explains Narayanan. "So while there will be certain global mandates on the kind of advertising that is produced, we will be creating advertising relevant to Indian audiences, within the boundaries of those mandates." Narayanan does not wish to speculate on the size of the STB business. "We really don't know how big the account is… but looking at the activity so far, I can say it is fairly large and significant for us."

Interestingly, the agency has already created two commercials for its new client - one of which highlights the IIFA Awards (International Indian Film Academy Awards), which is being hosted in Singapore this year. It must be added that the IIFA promo film features Amitabh Bachchan, who is the brand ambassador of the IIFA. The commercials are scheduled to go on air in roughly ten days' time. "Both STB and Batey are very happy with the way the films have turned out," smiles Paul. He adds that Batey is generally impressed with the work being produced by rmg. "They are quite thrilled with what we are doing," he says. "In fact, they were very excited about our performance at this year's Abbys. I think it reassured them to know they have got into a relationship with a strong agency."

Narayanan is quick to clarify that the relationship between Batey and rmg is restricted to the Singapore Tourism account. "The nature of the association between the two agencies is limited to STB. It is a working alliance to take care of the Indian needs of one of Batey's biggest clients," he says. But that is only for now. After all, Batey handles Singapore Airlines (which was, incidentally, Batey's first ever client), which is expected to increase its advertising in India in the days to come. Then there is the Mercedes-Benz account that Batey is in charge of… When quizzed on these prospects, Narayanan shrugs and replies, "Like I told you, this is about Singapore Tourism. But if we are lucky and do some good work, who knows… rmg might be considered to handle some other businesses." © 2004 agencyfaqs!

Have news to share? Write to us atnewsteam@afaqs.com