Starcom formally launched its Chennai office, its 137th globally, at an event on Wednesday. And it was a flying start for the agency as it rode in with two account wins – Cholayil and Life Cell. While the Cholayil account is estimated to be in the region of Rs 17 crore, the size of the Life Cell account is not known but is expected to be much smaller in terms of spends. These add to Starcom’s Chennai kitty comprising of Hatsun, Singapore Tourism and Dishnet.
The other agency in the fray for the Cholayil account was Initiative Media. The pitch process is said to have lasted over a month. Starcom has been operational in Chennai for the last three months, and with these wins, the volume of its business out of the city is estimated to be around Rs 40 crore.
Cholayil, whose media function was until now handled by Mediacom, made the decision yesterday. A company official said, “I think they have set up a fairly strong operation in Chennai. Their tools and techniques looked very robust to us. At the end of it, we were convinced that they would deliver maximum return on the money we spend.”
Said a beaming Ravi Kiran, Managing Director, India - South and West, Starcom, “We are working with some of the most respected clients in Chennai. It’s about the mind match and not about the size and other traditional factors anymore.”
The crossover period on the Cholayil account is expected to be a month. The two big brands from Cholayil are Medimix and Cuticura. While the creative duties for Medimix are with Grey, rmg david handles Cuticura.
Lifecell, the other account won by Starcom in Chennai, is into cord blood collection and preservation. The company is planning the launch of its Mumbai operations in the first week of July.
Observed Manish Porwal, General Manager, Investments and New Initiatives, Starcom, said, “Chennai once had the image of a lagging and low-paying advertising market. All that has changed now. Regional clients are becoming national and local clients are becoming regional. When Hatsun came, we knew the floodgates had opened. It’s not the billings or the planning alone. It’s something that’s built on beliefs and we believe we’re being hired for the difference we’ll create.”
Starcom’s Chennai operation is all set to expand from its present team of three. But Ravi Kiran says it’s proving difficult to source the right people. “We met with about 25 people, but it’s amazingly difficult to find people in Chennai. We are looking at expanding but we’re not going to expand arbitrarily just because it’s an expanding market. We need to find the right people.”
Industry sources reveal that the agency might be on the verge of signing on one more client in the next one week. At the rate at which Starcom is growing in Chennai, one expects a few more ‘people movements’ in the near future.