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HLL homes in on a media chief with the right "connections", the Pepsi, Coke rivalry acquires a new hue, "Tiger" Pataudi on a new wicket and more...

Biz Buzz
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For long, Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL) felt it was not important to have a strong lobbyist in the Indian Capital, a trend almost every other corporate house followed. So when its media head Irfan Khan retired and picked up an assignment with Coca Cola, rumours were rife as to who would pick up the plum Rs 5 lakhs a month (plus perks) assignment. The first offer was made by HLL to Business India's Nazneen Karmali but she rejected it. And now, global placement giants Egon Zehnder -- which helped PepsiCo India find a successor (Cadbury's Rajiv Bakshi) for outgoing CEO Priya Mohan Sinha -- has found the man for HLL. And it's none other than the portly Subhabrata Bhattacharya, the political editor of Asian Age. Bhattacharya, formerly editor of Sunday and political editor of Tribune and media head, Planning Commission, pipped Ajay Kumar of Tata Sons for the post. So what is the buzz at Lever House in Mumbai? That it is important to keep a person with both strong political and media connections, something Bhattarcharya enjoys considerably.

Fights between Pepsi and Coke are the norm across the globe. But in India, it always assumes a different hue. Consider the latest one involving the two cola giants. Remember the latest Thums Up campaign featuring Salman Khan wherein the actor drives through a dusty Rajasthan town for his preferred drink? Many felt the campaign from the stables of Leo Burnett India was a classy one and reflected the right kind of macho message Thums Up wants to portray. But now, BBDO has sent Coca Cola India and Leo Burnett India a legal notice saying the campaign was a complete frame-by-frame lift of its last year's campaign for Pepsi which was released in Australia and across South America. And worse, Leo Burnett India's creative head -- who recently left to join McCann Erickson -- has already admitted that she and her team were asked by Coca Cola India to copy the BBDO campaign frame-by-frame. Are Indian agencies running out of innovative and creative ideas? Now whether Coke pulls off the campaign from the channels is another issue altogether.

Is Subroto "Sahara" Roy contemplating a partner for his ailing airline? Perhaps yes. Otherwise why is it that the Sahara top brass has been in serious negotiations with Crown Mart, the UK-based airline company. Now whether it will be a strategic partnership (on the lines of Jet-Emirates) is not immediately known. But Crown Mart, which has submitted a detailed proposal for domestic operations to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, is keen for a buyout of a running airline and then start its operations by the end of September. Crown Mart is currently scouting for an advertising agency for promotions, which will start in a month's time. And if everything goes right, it could be sweet revenge for Crown Mart India head U.K. Bose, who was once hustled out of Sahara Airlines by the Roys.

Ask anyone about style and cricket and he will surely remember the former Indian skipper Mansur Ali Khan "Tiger" Pataudi. And his flamboyant style, classy shots and storybook romance with actress Sharmila Tagore. After he was out of cricket, Pataudi edited a Calcutta-based sports magazine and did modelling assignments for sometime. But now, "Tiger" is interested in chronicling his life story on television and is working with a Delhi-based software house for the same. Last heard, Star Plus was fairly close in the race (against Sony Entertainment and Zee) for acquiring rights for the serial. But who will play the lead? The first choice was Saif Ali Khan but "Tiger" apparently rejected the proposal.

After his father, the legendary Sir Rai Bahadur Oberoi, made headlines with his legendary acquisitions of some of the classiest hotels across the globe, it is now the turn of his younger son, P.R.S "Bikki" Oberoi to further spread the family business. And the latest is in none other than the land of the wild, South Africa, where East India Hotels will set up a classy five-star super deluxe hotel close to one of the game reserves. Operations -- according to "Bikki" who recently returned from Johannesburg -- will start this fall. Who says Wipro, Tata and Infosys are the only Indian brands recognized globally

Are changes finally happening in Zee? Well, it seems the first round of changes have already started taking place. New CEO Sandip Goyal has slashed one fourth of the staff in Delhi and Mumbai and told those handling the news channel that they need to pick up more exclusive reports and increase interaction with both the bureaucracy and ministers. "Zee should not be seen as an anti-government channel. Hard hitting stories must be backed by facts," was his subtle message. Is NDTV slipping? It appears so, especially during the Prime Minister's recent visit to Malaysia where the NDTV crew failed to get a glimpse of Octavio Quattorochi whereas rival Aaj Tak not only had the controversial former Indian head of Italian giant Snam Progetti on camera for full two minutes but a few answers from him as well. How many camera crews Aaj Tak sent out to track down the elusive "Monkey Man"? Ten, to be precise.

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