The ban on cigarette advertising from May 1 has prompted market leaders ITC and Godfrey Phillips India (GPI) to launch new brands in April itself.
Though the companies insist that they had always planned the launches in April, it is likely that they want to get the last bit of advertising mileage for the new brands before the ban becomes effective.
Three days ago, GPI launched Maxus, a premium regular filter brand priced at Rs 20 for 10 cigarettes in Hyderabad and Chandigarh. The price places Maxus against ITC’s flagship brand Gold Flake, priced at Rs 19 for a ten-stick pack.
ITC, on the other hand is planning to launch a variant of Gold Flake in the same category, later this month.
The company’s senior executive vice-president K Vaidyanathan confirmed this to FE the Kolkata-based branding division declined to disclose anything about the pricing or the actual name of the product. The Gold Flake brand is handled by J Walter Thomson.
GPI senior vice-president (corporate affairs) Sandeep Kumar said the company had roped in Rediffusion DYR, which also handles the other brands of the company Red & White, Jaisalmer and Four Square, to create the ad campaign.
The two companies together control over 80 per cent of the cigarette market in India.
ITC claims a 70 per cent market share in the filter cigarette market.
Its other brands include Wills, India Kings, Insignia, Scissors, Capstan, Berkley and Bristol. GPI’s stable includes Red & White, Jaisalmer, Four Square, Tipper, Cavander and Prince.
Advertising agencies like JWT and Rediffusion DYR, which handle India’s top cigarette brands prefer not to comment on the business they will lose when the ban comes into effect, though with a couple of brands being launched this month, the agencies will milk a last bit of business from the sector.