Cheil Communications, long seen as the in-house agency of Samsung, has ambitious plans lined up for the New Year. With the speculation over Samsung’s global account now over, the agency’s first mandate is to consolidate their partnership with Samsung in India and pitch for new businesses in the coming year, says Viren Razdan, Senior Vice-President, Cheil Communications.
“As of now, Samsung’s marketing and investing plans are huge enough for a reputed agency like ours to handle. We have got huge business from Samsung and it’s a big responsibility. We are gearing up to consolidate our partnership with Samsung. New business was not a viable option for 2004. However, our feeling is that in 2005 we will be open to new businesses. The first mandate, though, will remain to engineer the agency to match Samsung’s marketing plans,” Razdan said.
On WPP winning the Samsung global account, Razdan explained that for the last five years, Cheil had partnered with a global agency on the Samsung account, the last partnership being with FCB. “That partnership ended this June, and that’s why the pitch happened,” he said.
Razdan said the reason for a global partner agency was necessitated by the fact that Cheil did not have offices all over the world. “FCB used to create and execute a global campaign, but clearly the choice was given to locally choose an agency or opt for FCB,” he added.
In India, Interface, which was Cheil’s partnering agency, has been replaced by WPP, Razdan said. Elaborating on the emerging scenario, he said, “We have no official information on which WPP agency will be leading it in India.” As for the media side of the business, he said that Initiative used to handle the business worldwide, but they never handled it in India because of competitive conflicts. “Since the pitch is only for the global part, local Indian budgets and campaigns have nothing to do with it. The local Samsung subsidiary chooses and decides on its own. So the entire speculation is on the global campaign, and we really don’t know in India what the arrangement will be like,” Razdan said.
According to Razdan, since Motorola and LG in India are handled by WPP, “it’s for Mindshare to tell us what the story would be. Considering that they have a big stake in LG and Motorola, we will wait for them to take a call. We have no issues at all.” He further disclosed that “as of now, the official communication is that WPP is the assigned agency for the global campaign and how it is going to plan out in complex countries we don’t know.”
Giving a historical perspective, Razdan said that there were “very few countries with complicated arrangements wherein Mindshare has very big conflicting businesses and Cheil does not have enough presence”. In India, last time, “FCB refused to part with Whirlpool…so India decided to choose its own agency. We had agencies like Mudra and Trident and we continued with them. For media buying again, Initiative did not want to abandon competitive companies, so Lodestar used to handle it. That is what has been happening historically. I don’t know what will happen this time. So WPP needs to tell us what would it be like.”
On the recent Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) embargo on Samsung ads (since lifted), Razdan said the embargo never got executed. It happened more because of the transition of agencies which resulted in some pending issues not being resolved, he said, adding that they were all sorted out. “If you notice, none of our ads went off air. I am not saying there was no default in payment, but that the amount was too miniscule for such a harsh action. The idea was more to shake the advertising industry and show that even a big advertiser can be taken to task if payments are pending,” Razdan reasoned.