After a multi-agency pitch that featured around five-six agencies, the Cobra beer account has moved to Lowe. Sources claim Saatchi & Saatchi, Grey, Quadrant and McCann were the other agencies involved in the fray. The campaign for Cobra Premium lager beer is likely to break by January 2005.
The development was confirmed by Lowe Vice-President Sanjay Srivastava, who said that Cobra was one of the fastest growing beer brands in the UK and the brewery needed a launch pad, which would convey their stand in India. “Around a month back, they had called for a pitch and the brief revolved around communicating Cobra’s position as a premium international brand. They are looking at a soft launch and are concentrating only on metros and mini-metros in the initial phase. Hence, we would be seeing a lot of below the line, print and outdoor, and perhaps not as much of television since it’s not a mass brand,” he said. As for the account size, he said, “While it would not be possible for me to quote an exact figure in terms of the account size, it would suffice to say that their spends would be comparable with those of competing brands.”
As Srivastava says it is an important win for the agency because Cobra has a footprint in the international market. “We think that our comprehension of their brand strategy and the quality of the creative product generated led to this win over the other agencies,” he adds.
Interestingly, Cobra has strong Indian connections. Cobra’s founder Karan Bilimoria is said to have quaffed his first glass of beer as a teenager while cavorting with young officers in the messes of Indian Army. Cobra sells more than £ 50 million worth of beer a year, half of which is consumed in 5,600 Indian restaurants in the UK.
Initially, Cobra contracted Mysore Breweries in Bangalore for production but later switched to the UK-based brewer Charles Wells after problems with quality. However, Bilimoria still plans to set up his own brewery in Hyderabad. He is learnt to believe that India could become the biggest market for beer in the world.
But is there space for another player in the premium beer segment? Cobra's long-term rival Kingfisher is India's top brand, while SABMiller is making great strides with its Knockout label, produced, incidentally, by Mysore Breweries.