In what could offer advertising agencies a coveted business, Tata group, the $100.09-billion Indian conglomerate that derives 58 per cent of its revenue from international markets, has initiated a massive branding exercise to position itself as a global giant. As part of this, the group's top brass has started meeting advertising agencies.
Among several ad agency networks making presentations to the Tata management are WPP and IPG. According to people in the know, a high-powered WPP team met the Tata brass on Thursday and presentations are likely to be on for a few more days, as the Tatas try to understand who is best suited for the job.
Global branding firms like Wolff Olins, which has worked with Tata Group in India, and international agencies like StrawberryFrog, the creator of the Mahindra Rise campaign that tried to position M&M as a global giant three years ago, are also reported to be in the fray.
This, though, could not be immediately verified.
Mukund Rajan, member of the group executive council, brand custodian & chief ethics officer, Tata Group, was not available for comments.
The branding exercise is estimated cost Rs 100-200 crore ( Rs 10-20 billion), given that the Tatas intend to use a combination of conventional advertising, promotions, digital, events and public relations - what in trade parlance is referred to as paid, earned and owned media - to engage with international consumers and tell them what the group is all about.
"There is certainly a necessity for Tata Group to address the global consumer as a combined unit," says Harish Bijoor, chief executive officer, Harish Bijoor Consults. "The Tatas have so far let their acquisitions do the talking.
The products they have acquired as a result of these deals and products and services exported out of India have also spoken to global audiences. Now, it is time for them to speak as a an entity. The global exercise will help."
The group is looking to roll out the mega campaign this year either from the US, the UK or Africa.
These three regions have been identified with care: Africa is rapidly becoming a big market for the Tatas, where the group has a substantial presence in sectors like automobile, hydroelectric power generation, communications, hotels, IT and chemicals.
In the US, internal discussions have shown that the group identity requires strengthening, though the Tatas are the largest India-headquartered multinational in North America (including Canada) - represented by 11 group companies.
This region contributes a large part of the Tata group's international turnover. Besides Tata Consultancy Services, the Tatas have marked their presence in the US with brands like Tetley and Eight O' Clock Coffee from Tata Global Beverages and Jaguar and Land Rover from Tata Motors.
In the UK and Europe, the Tatas are known through their car brands Jaguar and Land Rover and tea brand Tetley.
According to people in the know, what has given the group the confidence to undertake the massive branding exercise is the sheer value of its corporate brand, which, they say, can be leveraged globally.
According to the UK-based brand valuation firm Brand Finance, the Tata brand, with a value of $21.1 billion, is ranked 34th in the pecking order of the world's most valuable brands (up from 39th with $18.16-billion value in 2013). It has consistently improved its ranking since being inducted into the Top 100 list of global brands by Brand Finance in 2007.