Monday, July 11, 2011

Taproot Bags Airtel Campaign For 25 Crore

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Mumbai-based Taproot India has bagged work on a campaign for brand Airtel, underscoring the growing trend of smaller independent creative outfits winning big ticket brands traditionally aligned with larger network agencies. 
The size of spend is estimated to be around . 25 crore. 
WPP-owned JWT India is Airtel's agency of record, which means it is authorised to buy advertising space or time for the brand. 
“While JWT will continue to work on Airtel, Taproot has been asked to work on a campaign that enables the brand to create a more in-depth and robust brand communication in India,” a person close to the development said. 
When contacted by ET, Airtel denied such move. “There has been no change in our agency alignment. JWT continues to be our advertising agency responsible for brand in India and South Asia,” Airtel's spokesperson said in reponse to an email query. 
Taproot co-founder Agnello Dias refused to comment. Sources close to the development, however, said the decision to award Taproot, the agency of record for PepsiCo India, a project to work on a campaign with specific focus on creating a long-term brand identity has been more or less finalised. 
The decision to look at another agency for Airtel comes as the Airtel senior management is keen on a long-term sustainable campaign. 
A Bharti Airtel official who did want to be named said, “The management has been unhappy with JWT and there could be more changes in the offing. It is looking at reducing dependence on one ad agency.” 
This would not only put pressure on the existing agency but also generate fresh ideas, he said. 
The move, the official said, is linked to the large-scale restructuring the telecom giant. Airtel, grappling with falling profits and slowing growth, last week said it was streamlining its operations in India and South Asia under two customer business units — one serving corporate clients (business to business or B2B) and the other handling its retail offerings
(business to customer or B2C) — effective August 1. 
Another Bharti official, based in Delhi, said rivals Vodafone and Tata DoCoMo have stolen the thunder in the advertising sweepstakes. “Vodafone's Zoo-Zoo, created by O&M, has been a clear differentiator over the years. From mobile number portability to music downloads to 3G, Vodafone has stuck to the one big idea. Even Tata Teleservices' DoCoMo has managed to cut through the clutter riding on taglines like 'Keep it simple' or 'Do the new'.” 
Bharti, on the other hand, has had a series of celebrity endorsers like musician AR Rahman and actors Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, but the one big consistent idea is lacking, the management feels. This despite the recent re-branding initiatives by Airtel where JWT created the last big campaign titled 'endless goodbye'. 
Airtel is Taproot's second big account. Taproot became the third AoR for brand Pepsi, riding on the work the agency did for Pepsi's 'change the game' world cup campaign. 
Since 2010, a clutch of smaller independent agencies have managed to bag big ticket clients from larger network agencies. This trend in India mirrors a practice internationally, where clients are increasingly looking to hedge their bets by creating a bouquet of agencies working on a brand. 
In India, Hero Honda recently awarded Law & Kenneth the mandate to work on its corporate branding. In March, beverage maker Coca-Cola mandated Leo Burnett as the creative agency for Coke Studio, its global music property in India. 
The development came months after rival PepsiCo decided to assign its biggest commercial of the year - its word cup campaign - to creative hot shop Taproot and not to JWT which has been its creative agency for two decades. Nestle India has also appointed Mumbai based Scarecrow Communications as the agency to launch a new brand even as the company has agencies like Publicis India, McCann Erickson and JWT on its roster.
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