The changing face of brand battle
Maruti to drive back into black
Industry lists exim demands
Sun seeks US nod for cardiac drug

New Delhi, March 23: 
Ad wars are passe. For brand warriors, now it’s a game of sniper attacks naming names and sly digs.

Car makers, cola giants and even branded salt makers have joined the fray turning television slots and newspaper pages into brand battlefields.

Earlier this week, using a full-page tongue-in-cheek newspaper advertisement, Maruti paid a backhanded compliment to rival Hyundai—it congratulated the Korean car-maker for finally catching up with its 1.1 litre engine by fitting its popular offering Santro with one.

The ad then goes on to compare Santro’s features with Maruti’s two comparable offerings—Alto and Wagon R. The obvious intention is to show off Maruti cars as the better performer on the road.

If car makers are stepping up the gas, the two cola majors—Coca-Cola and Pepsi—are always there to add froth to the bubbly ad war.

Even before Pepsi’s latest offering Pepsi Aha could hit the market, Coca-Cola has spun out an ad belittling the product.

The latest Coca-Cola ad shows two kids fighting over the taste of a soft drink (read Pepsi)—one kid insists its sour, the other sweet. Enters Bollywood star Salman Khan who tells the kids that the maker of the beverage could not make up his mind, so first he made it sweet, then sour and will later go on to add salt and spices. He then offers them Thums Up. The message: Grow up to Thums Up and the punchline: Aha...Naha.

Pepsi’s reply will perhaps be known next week. “The TV commercial for Pepsi Aha will hit the air by the end of March, after the product is available nationally,” said a Pepsi spokesperson.

Coke’s offensive comes as an answer to Pepsi’s own sniper attack launched some time back: the Pepsi ad showed a cola stall-owner sitting idle while a nearby shanty-owner busy selling Pepsi to gorgeous customers.

Coca-Cola which has a policy of not using its premier global brand for retaliation has picked up Thums Up for its counter-offensive against Pepsi.

Adding spice to the brand battle, is a Hindustan Lever ad which bids “Tata” to all other salts in its television commercial for its branded salt Annapurna. Makers of Tata Salt have already registered their complaint against the ad.


Calcutta, March 23: 
Maruti Udyog Limited, the country’s largest auto manufacturer, is set to bounce back into the black in the current financial year, thanks to the handsome growth registered by Alto and Wagon-R. Sources said the company, which received a jolt in the last financial year with a loss of Rs 269 crore, is expecting a net profit of around Rs 70 crore during the current financial year.

The company has recorded a profit of Rs 30 crore in the first six months of the current fiscal year compared with its loss of Rs 104 crore in the corresponding period last year.

While the company’s high-performing models, Maruti-800 and Zen, have taken a back seat this year, it is the new kids, Alto and Wagon-R, that have contributed to a great extent to boost Maruti’s financials.

Wagon-R has achieved a 30 per cent growth in sales till January, while Alto posted a 48 per cent growth in the same time. Maruti-800 and Zen have witnessed a growth of merely one and six per cent respectively during the same period.

Auto analysts have pointed out that Alto has replaced Maruti-800 particularly in cities while Zen had to sacrifice considerable market share to Wagon-R.

“Alto has been very aggressively priced although it has various modern features vis-à-vis Maruti-800. The model has created a new trend in the auto market,” a senior analyst said.

The overall sales of the company during the first 10 months rose three per cent to 2.69 lakh vehicles. Maruti notched up total sales of 3.3 lakh vehicles last year.

The domestic auto industry, however, has witnessed a growth of 6-7 per cent in the first 10 months of the current financial year.

Apart from the strong growth in the small car segment, the sharp reduction in average defectives has also helped the company to make a steady turnaround.

“During the year, the average defectives have come down to half and the rate of rejection has gone down substantially. This is something we have been trying to achieve for better performance,” sources said.

The other important aspect, they added, is the rise in the localisation level. While localisation is around 95 per cent for Maruti-800, it is over 80 per cent for other models, including Wagon-R and Alto.

The latest car from Maruti stable, Versa, however is yet to make a dent in the market.

“Versa is a new category altogether and it will take some time before it gains stability in the market,” sources said.


New Delhi, March 23: 
With the Exim policy due on March 31, the chambers have started voicing their demands. India Inc is demanding continuation of export promotion measures which many fear will have to be phased out as they are WTO incompatible.

Industry wants the government to rework the schemes so that they pass the muster under WTO norms. They feel that exports have plummeted due to the global recession with growth in dollar terms pegged at only 0.5 per cent during April-November last year.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has suggested a number of measures to simplify procedures relating to the schemes. It wants a new WTO compatible scheme which will reimburse local taxes like octroi, electricity duty, sales tax which the exporters have to pay.

It has also recommended that advance licence schemes, which are WTO compatible, should, give generic description, while issuing licences, without specifying the technical parameters, quality and size of input in order to give flexibility to exporters.

At present, strict enforcement of technical characteristics, quality and specification of inputs offer little flexibility to exporters, CII said.

However, it is doubtful whether this will be acceded to as Indian exports have suffered in the past due to lax quality parameters and the government is keen to ensure it is not repeated.

CII wants interest sops for exporters — in case of bonafide default rates should be reduced from 24 per cent to 12 per cent and from 24 per cent to 18 per cent in other cases.


Mumbai, March 23: 
Caraco Pharmaceutical Laboratories Ltd, the overseas arm of Mumbai-based Sun Pharmaceuticals (India) Ltd, has filed another generic drug application for a cardiology drug with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), US. With this, the number of Caraco drugs pending approval has gone up to five.

The company had received FDA approval for five generic drugs — metformin hydrochloride, a generic form of Bristol Myers Squibb’s Glucophage, oxaprozin, a generic form of G.D. Searle’s Daypro, carbamazepine (chewable), a generic form of Novartis’ Tegretol, clonazepam, a generic form of Roche’s Klonopin and flurbiprofen, a generic form of Pharmacia’s Ansaid.


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