Western Union hires McCann

Date: Wednesday, July 21, 2004

McCann Erickson India, it appears, can't stay out of the headlines these days.

So, within a fortnight of the agency adding a string of senior and mid-level creatives and seeing its national creative head Prasoon Joshi being appointed as the regional creative director for South Asia & South East Asia comes the news of McCann having acquired the creative account of leading online money transfer service brand, Western Union Money Transfer. In a parallel development, the agency's specialist healthcare division, McCann Healthcare, has also won a part of Zandu Pharmaceuticals' advertising portfolio, which went up for pitch last month.

The Western Union account has been awarded to McCann on the back of a creative-cum-strategy pitch that was held roughly two weeks ago. Apart from McCann and the defending agency (Ambience Publicis), the pitch was attended by a couple of agencies whose identities could not be ascertained. While the size of the account is not available, industry sources peg it at approximately Rs 7-8 crore, based on past and expected spends.

Speaking to agencyfaqs! about the Western Union win, Govind Pandey, senior vice-president & general manager, McCann Erickson India, revealed that the brief given to the agency was to suitably localize the brand's global positioning. "India is an important market for Western Union, and the client is looking to make a deeper local connect while staying within the framework of the global positioning," he says. "Our task was to borrow from that positioning keeping local sensibilities in mind." Pandey adds that it was, in fact, McCann's "better understanding" of the Indian consumer and "her idea of money" that helped it win the business.

Incidentally, Pandey reveals that Western Union is the seventh major win that the agency's Mumbai office has had in the last six months. "We first won a huge part of the Marico account (Saffola, Shanti Amla and Mediker)," he counts. "We followed that up with Siemens Mobile, NDTV 24X7, Sara Lee's branded apparel business, Tata Indicom and Sheetal Diamonds. All seven accounts put together add up to at least Rs 150 crore of new business in the first half of 2004."

What this demonstrates, feels Pandey, is that in Mumbai, the agency is "clearly among the Top 3" as an agency of choice. "The fact that we have been gaining businesses with such regularity is a testimony to the McCann way of looking at brands and advertising," he says. "Our understating of the Indian consumer and our ability to connect with her through advertising is a differentiator that clients have begun discerning."

Commenting on the spate of people and account acquisitions that McCann, Mumbai, has been witness to (as reported by agencyfaqs! earlier, the agency recently hired senior creatives such as Uday Parkar, Manish Bhatt and Raghu Bhat, all within a span of 20 days), Pandey says, "We are committed to building strong teams who can partner our clients in the advertising process. Between Santosh Desai (president, McCann Erickson India), Prasoon and me, we are developing the plot of putting things in place by getting the right people and the kind of clients we really want to work with."

Sharing his perspective on the agency's Mumbai operations, Desai is of the opinion that the process of arriving at critical mass was set in motion over a year-and-a-half ago. "Of course, the results have shown dramatically over the last six months," he admits. "But all this while, Prasoon has been leading the creative, while Govind has made Mumbai a fighting outfit." Desai sees the resurgence at McCann, Mumbai, as the effect of a positive alignment of forces. "People who have been working together as a team have made it possible, and it has been led by our work, which has the backing of good people in creative and account planning. Also, Mumbai, as a city, responds best to good work, so I think McCann's time has come.

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