I was extremely intrigued when a very senior media person posed that question to me at our recent event – exchange4media Radio Advertising Awards on October 7, 2010. Not intrigued with the first part (it comes up literally in every conversation in media circuits today), but the latter part – is the pitch called off? Given all the developments on this pitch, of course it was not called off, or is not called off. Braving the ire of the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and the subsequent withdrawal of almost every media agency from the pitch, Reckitt Benckiser had moved forward with its process of reviewing its media partner, and possibly settling on a new one.
What could lead industry professionals to think that the pitch is called off?
Going over some details – the only serious contender for the pitch was ZenithOptimedia and the reason cited for ZO’s participation in the pitch was global relationship. For Reckitt hence, the choice boiled down to ZO and the incumbent MPG.
It appears from all current conversations that Reckitt has decided to stay with the “known devil” of the two. Before some of you pick your mobiles or landlines or type out emails, let me clarify this is not my term. This is pretty much what the conversations on the subject are like. One reason why there is so much speculation on the subject is also because Reckitt has not officially announced anything on this yet, and that has led some to think that Reckitt is still deciding...
But the industry word is that the decision is made. The account stays with MPG and since there is no change in status quo, there is no announcement of any kind on this yet. So, does a situation of status quo mean that for all practical purposes the pitch is called off?
Some people in the industry may hold that view, but I would not. Reckitt proceeded with the pitch, and even if it continues with MPG, there are changes set to happen. If sources are to be believed and Reckitt stays with MPG, there is another big development in the pipeline that involves MPG and another media agency that had given this pitch, despite some of its terms, a very serious consideration (No, I am not talking about Lintas Media Group).
The final phase of the pitch may not be as heated and controversial as its initial phase, but Reckitt is a savvy client. For all the drama that was happening, it would still be working on how it can leverage the situation to its benefit. And at least I am sure Reckitt would have managed it. May be not in the direct terms that it was asking for at the time of the pitch call – in fact, in that, Reckitt has set an example of things that media and advertising industry will not allow clients to do – but definitely in terms of gaining more from its relation with MPG in India.
So, is this the simple end to the most controversial pitch of recent times? For now perhaps... Otherwise, this is an industry of no ends – the show, goes on...
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