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Business India
Devendra Mohan
13 January 2008

The Aditya Birla Group-promoted Grasim Industries (cement business division) has witnessed two major and extremely successful transitions in a space of three years.

The first transition took place in 2004 when the company bought a 51 per cent controlling stake in L&T cement. Grasim already had brands like Birla Plus, Birla White, Birla Super and a few other regional brands totalling around 14 million tpa making it the third largest cement producer in the country. With the addition of L&T cement, the combined capacity of the company grew to 31 million tpa making it the largest cement manufacturer in the country.

A critical aspect to be tackled immediately after the takeover was to find a new brand name for L&T cement. A nationwide research to understand customer perception about the L&T cement brand was commissioned.

Says O.P. Puranmalka, Group executive president, Grasim Industries and chief marketing officer, UltraTech Cement Ltd, "The name UltraTech was the outcome of an in-depth research conducted throughout the country. The research study indicated that in the customers' mind, L&T stood for quality, technology and expertise. The name UltraTech with the signature line 'the engineer's choice' admirably captures the premium nature of the brand and its salience."

In October 2004 when the brand UltraTech was born, a national advertising campaign across the print and electronic media was kicked-off to announce the transition from L&T cement to UltraTech Cement. Aside from the campaign, extensive use of banners, hoardings and other communication channels ensured that the brand was strongly entrenched; and over 5,500 distributors and stockists and 30,000 retailers across the country quickly recognised the new brand.

Very recently, came the second transition. 'Birla Plus has now become Ultratech Cement' — was the catchline. With this move, UltraTech becomes one of the largest cement brands in the country with volumes in excess of 25 million tonnes. The out-of-home agency Clear Channel handled the outdoor campaign of UltraTech Cement, to convey 'Birla Plus is now UltraTech'. The widespread activity was planned and executed over a two-week period. Says Puranmalka, "The brief was to communicate the conversion of the cement brand name from Birla Plus to UltraTech as well as portray the core brand values of UltraTech. Clear Channel has installed 1,350 sites in 82 cities in just 19 hours."

New campaign
The tag line for the campaign is 'Jaan wahi pechan nayi'. UltraTech had planned that all advertising media being used would commence on the new campaign at the same time. In order to make that possible across the country, thr outdoor team spent many hours trying to figure out the logistics. Over 300,000 sq ft media space were put up across the country.

"There will now be one national brand — UltraTech", says Puranmalka. However, regional brands such as Vikram Cement in the north zone and Birla Super in Bangalore, Pune and Mysore, besides Rajashree Cement in the west and south zone will continue to be part of the brand portfolio. UltraTech was the natural choice as the national brand as company excutives feel that it signifies progress, cutting-edge technology and modernity. As a brand it has extremely positive associations and awareness even in non-UltraTech markets such as the north-zone.

UltraTech's distribution network is now pan-India, with over 14,000 dealers and 60,000 retailers. Also the Aditya Birla Group's cement capacity has enhanced in excess of 31 million tonnes per annum.