Ad agencies seem to be looking at the Coimbatore market with renewed enthusiasm, irrespective of whether they want to set shop in the city. Coimbatore-based Sasi Advertising has been around since 1979. And newer entrants are making their mark. With national and Chennai-based agencies vying for Coimbatore-based clients, existing players like Sasi are looking at markets like Chennai, Bangalore and others seriously.
Coimbatore, with its proximity to Tirupur, Erode and Salem, and also to Kerala, is an industrial and textile hub, which has also established its presence in education over the years. With its strong industrial, retail and garment brands, the hub is attracting advertising agencies from all over.
Sasi Advertising has been one of the first and is among the biggest players in Coimbatore’s advertising industry. It’s offices in Coimbatore, Chennai, Madurai, Trichy, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Cochin, besides Mumbai and Delhi. It gives this South-based agency a pan-India presence. Its brand portfolio (in Coimbatore) includes Crocodile, Pricol, Premier Mills, Shanti Gears and LG Roll On chains. The work done by most agencies in the Coimbatore market goes beyond advertising and encompass Events, BTL, Outdoors, PR and Printing. The total market is estimated to be in the region of Rs 50 crore, in terms of billings done out of Coimbatore alone, across services.
So is Coimbatore the place to be? Swaminathan, Managing Director and Founder of Sasi, has another story to tell. He said, “In the Coimbatore market, the potential is much lower when compared to metros. There is no point in relying on print media alone. The concept of 15 per cent is dying. We need to focus on other avenues, including TV production and BTL.”
Sasi Advertising until recently handled Arun Ice Creams and Arogya Milk, both of which have moved to national agencies. Recently at its Chennai branch, it has recruited Mohana Rangan (CD-Copy) and Vinod (Strategic Planner), both from Rubecon. Another new entrant is Alok Ghosh (CD-Art) from Maitri Advertising. Its clients from Chennai include Southern Railway, Neyveli Lignite Corporation and United India Assurance.
Refusing to divulge details on the company’s billings, Swaminathan said, “A 5 to 10 per cent increase is the realistic target, with retaining existing clients itself being a challenge.”
Alak Nanda is one agency that made its foray into Coimbatore three years ago. And heading the Coimbatore branch of the agency is Murali Dharan, who moved in from Sasi Advertising in December 2004 after 14 years with the agency. It currently handles, among others, ABT (Car Division), Roots Multi-clean, Johnson’s School of Business, Retail client Ganapathy Textiles and ARC. On the other hand, there are the Coimbatore-based clients being handled out of other centres. Like Chennai-based hot shop WOC, which handles creative of Chennai Silks, a retail client based in Coimbatore with annual spends estimated to be in the region of Rs 10 crore.
Said K Sathyanarayana, GM - South, Media Direction, Chennai, "In my estimate, the entire advertising pie in Coimbatore and surrounding areas like Tirupur and Erode would be in the region of Rs 50 crore. If you are talking about organised brand advertising, I think it would be around Rs 15 crore. Some of the retailers in the region are big spenders and a lot of the accounts based in Coimbatore are billed from other centres like Chennai. My estimate does not take into account these clients."
As is obvious, not all agencies are keen on setting up shop in the city. Mudra, which handles Lakshmi Machine Works, a Coimbatore-based client, handles the account out of its Chennai office. Ashok Vidyasagar, Branch Director, Mudra, Chennai, said, “There are some advantages that an agency from outside brings to a city like Coimbatore. For example, there are a large number of B2B units. An agency from an outside city with cross category experiences might be able to bring in some amount of freshness in perspective in such cases.” Vidyasagar estimated the potential in the hub to be in the region of Rs.40 crore.
A few agencies and hot shops from Chennai are said to be looking to set up shop in Coimbatore, to service their existing clients. As they do, it is only natural that the competition for local players like Sasi increases further. Even if they don’t set shop locally, the challenges for regional agencies seem to be from the biggies and metro-based hot shops.