Airtel calls for media agency pitch

03 Nov,2014

By Pritha Dasgupta


Bharti Airtel, India’s largest mobile carrier by revenue and subscribers, has called for a media agency pitch. It is touted as one of the biggest advertising pitches of 2014.


The company has just finished the process of sending out invites to leading media agencies including the Sam Balsara-led Madison World, which has been handling the account for the past 11 years. According to people in the know, other agencies in the fray include one of GroupM agencies, Lodestar, Dentsu Aegis Network, OMD and ZenithOptimedia.


“Airtel has made all the media agencies sign a non-disclosure agreement barring them from talking about the pitch process,” said an executive with knowledge of the matter.


Airtel has been calling for media pitches once every five years and the last time it reviewed the account was in early 2010, he said.


Airtel didn’t respond an email seeking comment. A top executive at the New Delhi-based company said it “is just a part of the evolution process” as it periodically reviews the contract. “This time too we want to see who’s offering what and at what price,“ he said.Globally, Airtel is the fourth largest mobile telecommunications company by subscribers, with more than 300 million subscribers across 20 countries as of end-September. It is the largest cellular service provider in India, with over 200 million subscribers.


During the last pitch process, Madison had faced stiff competition from agencies like TME, Starcom MediaVest, Percept, Mediaedge:cia (MEC) and Lintas Media Group. This year, it will be up against the mighty GroupM ­ the biggest media agency of the country.


Interestingly, GroupM already has four telecom companies in its portfolio ­ Vodafone, Tata Docomo, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications. “GroupM has five media agencies and four telecom clients. So they can still look at adding one more telecom business to its kitty,“ said a top industry executive in the know.When Madison retained the account in 2010, it was also given the outdoor duties of Airtel which were initially handled by Portland, a unit of GroupM.


Later, Madison set up a dedicated outdoor team to handle the Airtel account.


Source:The Economic Times

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