HLL's calling a pitch for Close-up account has triggered off dozen and a few speculations as to the company's future plans as far as advertising is concerned. Close-up's advertising spend, inclusive of creative and media, is pegged at around Rs 70 crore. Which, even if one looks at only the creative part of it, makes it a lucrative brand to handle.
However, according to Hindustan Levers spokesperson, a mountain is being created out of a molehill. Says he, ". HTA has played a critical role in Close-up's growth (17% of 2000 crore toothpaste market) during this period with their advertising inputs. Now as the brand looks ahead at future growth opportunities and evolving aspirations of its target consumers, it is examining all resources, including brand communication, which are integral to its future plans".
The spokesperson also explains the reasons for the pitch, "HLL has asked a select group of advertising agencies, including HTA, to share their views on the brand's future communication. This is being done purely to ensure that the brand has the best inputs for its growth plans in the future. This consultative process will take time and is likely to be completed by end of the year. If during these discussions, significantly new directions emerge, which enhance growth potential of the brand, then we may consider changing the advertising agency responsible for Close-up".
Though according to reports the agencies that pitched are incumbent JWT, O&M, Contract and Chlorophyll, grapevine claims that there are more than a dozen agencies in the race.
When asked if the company would be calling for a pitch for any of the other brands, said he, "HLL does not have any current plans or proposals to invite pitches for any other brand of the company. The company is satisfied with the advertising agencies on these brands".
Now on to the speculations, HLL has decided to focus on its 30 power brands, and it is likely that quite a few of these brands might be up for a pitch. HLL, as exchange4media mentioned earlier, conducted a study a few months back to identify strategies that would improve the impact of its ads by making them more interesting and clutter breaking. Secondly, sources claim that Sunsilk advertising strategy is being reworked, and it might also mean calling for a pitch. As of now, according to industry sources, advertising money being spent by HLL on Sunsilk is approximately 1/10th of the money, it is spending on Clinic Plus. However, sources also add that Levers is extremely committed to its agencies, and hence it is not going to change the agencies overnight.
Sources also state that worldwide Levers is more of a chemical and ice-cream giant, and hence alignment with different agencies in the countries, where it has strong presence in the FMCG market might become a common phenomenon.