GroupM has bagged Bharti Airtel's media account excluding outdoor, replacing Madison as the media manager of India's largest mobile carrier by revenue and subscribers after a decade.
The size of Airtel's media account is upwards of Rs 400 crore, say industry sources, with estimated spends of Rs 350 crore in above-the-line (ATL) advertising and Rs 50 crore on out-of-home (OOH) media.
Milestone Brandcom, which is the outdoor unit of Dentsu Aegis Media, has won the outdoor mandate, said a top official at Airtel. The firm's creative mandate is split between WPP agency J Walter Thompson, Dentsu Aegis Network agency Taproot and Cartwheel.
In response to an email sent to Airtel, a company spokesperson said, 'No comments.'
CVL Srinivas, CEO of GroupM South Asia, said, "We are delighted with the Airtel win." He said the group will set up a separate 'team Airtel' to manage the account. It will be like a parallel unit within the group. GroupM is in the process of promoting an internal talent to head the Airtel team, who will report to Srinivas.
Madison has been handling Airtel's main media account since 2005 and its outdoor duties since 2010. The shift in accounts is only for India.
Top officials in know said Madison will continue to handle Airtel account in Sri Lanka.
Officials said the biggest reason behind this shift is because Airtel is looking for a strong partner to help it strategize through this extremely dynamic category. This was especially considering the digital space, "in which Madison has completely missed the bus," one of them said.
Sam Balsara, CMD at Madison World, said: "Nothing went wrong. You win some. You lose some. Fortunately we win more than we lose."
He said, "Whilst we are sorry to part with Airtel, its impact on total revenue of Madison Media would be very marginal. It was one of about a dozen large accounts of Madison Media, one of over 50 accounts of Madison Media and one of over 200 of Madison World."
Airtel had called for two separate pitches. In November last year it put its media mandate on the block including television, print, radio, cinema and digital. This year it called for a separate pitch for the outdoor mandate.