The WPP web appears to have now caught the Aditya Birla Group in its fold. ABG has recently brought in JWT on its creative roster. As a result, VGC continues to be the agency for the ABG corporate business, while JWT will handle the financial services business. And now, it has decided to reap the benefits of a single media agency of record (AoR) system. The Group is letting go of its various media partners to consolidate its businesses with one agency. The blessed one has turned out to be MindShare India.
The decision for a consolidated media AoR is not as simple as it may appear. Not all ABG companies appear to be willing to align with this single-agency proposal. Idea Cellular, for one, has firmly and clearly stayed away from the pitch, and this means that there is no change in the media agency for this business which is with the Lintas Media Group.
The agencies that are definitely out of the Aditya Birla Group system are Media Direction that was working on companies in the life insurance and mutual funds verticals, and MPG that was handling the corporate side of the Group. The not-so-definite part of the story is Madura Garments and UltraTech, both of which are Lodestar Universal clients. Simply put, these companies have yet not given into the unified-agency thought process that the corporate office of the Aditya Birla Group is pushing for.
Needless to say, neither ABG officials nor officials of any of the agencies willing to offer comments on the development, but sources familiar with the situation informed that not only was the pitch process an usual one, but that there is still uncertainty on the final decision for some of the businesses included in this pitch. The pitch had begun as a three-staged process, which first included a credential presentation to Aditya Birla Group’s Brand Managers and other executives. Dr Pragnya Ram, who is taking the single-agency thought forward, was not present for this presentation for all the agencies.
The second and third stages that would have involved short-listing, followed by a presentation to the Aditya Birla Group directors, didn’t take place at all. The process was in a loop for over a month, and the next thing was MindShare India winning an attractive and large piece of the business. It is believed that in line with the restructuring that MindShare India is undergoing, the agency would create a Team ABG to look after this business.
Sources also divulge that MindShare India may already be working on the companies that Media Direction was handling, but the final roll-out would take place only by July-August 2008.
Idea Cellular, Madura Garments and UltraTech are three of heaviest spenders from the Aditya Birla Group. Once these are taken out, the ad spends may not even be in the vicinity of a couple of hundred crore of rupees. Even if MindShare doesn’t manage to grab Idea Cellular, it sure would be hoping for Madura Garments and UltraTech to come its way.
It is understood that the final decision is awaiting the word of Kumar Managalam Birla himself, and that there is still some time before that is known.