It’s Dentsu, Taproot & JWT for Congress

08 Oct,2013

 

By Pritha Mitra Dasgupta

 

The Congress party has opted for many of the same people who were behind its advertising campaign for the 2009 elections, picking Dentsu and Taproot to join JWT as the agencies that will handle the Rs 500 crore contract.

 

The party made its choice last week, said more than five people aware of the decision. They didn’t want to be named. It was reported earlier that JWT had been chosen by the party to run its ad campaign.

 

While the three agencies have been barred from speaking to the media by the party, the people familiar said Dentsu and its unit Taproot will handle the above-the-line (ATL) communications or those with a mass focus. Dentsu picked up a 51% stake in Taproot last year and both agencies made a joint pitch. JWT will handle the activation or on-ground events for Congress.

 

The party is expected to spend nearly Rs 400 crore on ATL messaging that includes television, print, radio, outdoor and digital and around Rs 100 crore for the on-ground activities.

 

The party will be looking to the ad agencies to burnish an image that’s been battered by corruption scandals and criticism over inaction on policy changes for much of its term. Experts said the Congress party will be looking to the food security legislation, the Right to Information Act, the direct transfer of benefits initiative and others as its main campaign planks for the election, besides indirect, subtle attacks on the opposition party over its secular credentials.

 

“Rahul Gandhi wants to use ’empowering the common man’ as the primary theme of the election campaign and most likely it will drop the ‘aam aadmi’ tagline this time. The party is now exploring which will be the most effective medium to build this campaign,” said one of the people cited above.

 

An email to Sanjeev Bhargava, managing partner and head of JWT Delhi, wasn’t answered. Agnello Dias, chairman and co- founder of Taproot India, and Rohit Ohri, executive chairman of Dentsu India Group, declined to comment. The Dentsu-Taproot team presented its media plan to Digvijay Singh and Jairam Ramesh last week, according to one of the people cited above.

 

“Since Rahul Gandhi has been travelling extensively, they could not show the media plan to him. Gandhi is back this week and will go through the media plan following which the agencies will start working on the campaign,” this person said. Work will begin shortly on the nuts and bolts of the advertising campaign.

 

“The agencies will appoint the production agency, song writers and so on, who will work on the campaign in November,” said the person cited above. “The ad campaigns will break in a phase-wise manner from January 2014.”

 

The Congress party didn’t give a brief to start with but would provide feedback once it began whittling down the contending agencies, said a senior industry official on the condition of anonymity. “During the pitch process there were no briefs given to the agencies,” this person said. “There were nine rounds of presentations. Following every round, once the agencies were shortlisted, they were re-briefed by the party.”

 

Both Messrs Gandhi and Singh played key roles in the special committee that oversaw the process, a party official said.

 

“It was Rahul Gandhi who took the final decision to go ahead with Dentsu India and Taproot,” said this person.

 

The choice of the agencies means that most of the people who worked on the 2009 campaign will also be working on this one. For instance, Messrs Dias and Ohri used to be with JWT, one of the agencies that handled the advertising campaign for the Congress party last time around. Also handling the Congress account in the 2009 election was Percept/H and Crayon.

 

At JWT, the campaign was led by Mr Ohri, who was then senior vice president and managing partner of JWT’s Delhi branch along with Jitender Dabas, vice president and strategic planning director. While Dabas is now at McCann Worldgroup, Mr Ohri moved to Dentsu India and took with him the team that worked on the Congress campaign.

 

This includes Soumitra Karnik, Suprotim Dey, Rajendra Singh and Chirantan Chandran. Mr Dias was with JWT until 2008 as chief creative officer but left soon after the election campaign started appearing.

 

For the last election, JWT created a three-month campaign for Congress backed by the tagline “Aam aadmi ke badhte kadam”. The campaign took place in three phases with some 250 films and radio spots in 22 languages. Special films were also made to reach out first-time voters with the slogan “Yuva Bharat ke badhte kadam”, leveraging Rahul Gandhi’s leadership and the late Rajiv Gandhi’s contribution to the country’s development.

 

They have a tough task ahead of them, given the current image of the party and the popularity of the BJP’s Narendra Modi.

 

Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2013, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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