Pradhan gifts Rs10cr to 'favoured' ad agency

Vol 18, PW 26 (27 Aug 15) People & Policy

Dharmendra Pradhan seems to have no qualms about blatantly favouring companies from his home state Orissa, where he wants to run for chief minister in 2019.

Helping him is ONGC, which has controversially handed a Rs10cr ($1.5m) advertising contract to Orissa-based Sanket Communications for its foundation day on August 14. Advertisements were published in 63 newspapers: 22 Hindi, 20 English, six Oriya, three Gujarati, three Bangla, two Assamese, two Marathi, two Malayalam, one Telugu, one Kannada, and one Urdu.

An additional Rs5 lakhs ($7500) was spent on magazine advertising. “When Pradhan took over in May 2014 he said that the majority of our advertisements should be routed through Sanket or Expression agencies,” confirms an ONGC source.

Sanket and Expression were among five agencies added to a list of 13 approved ones for ONGC’s Delhi corporate office on November 18, 2014. Others were OTS, Eashita and Crayons.

Sanket was earlier only approved for ads in the Mumbai-Goa and Rajahmundry-Hyderabad areas. Sanket was earlier gifted a Rs3cr ($450,000) contract by ONGC on a nomination basis in December 2014 to publicise Narendra Modi inaugurating the second unit of the ONGC Tripura Power Company Palatana power project.

“Usually companies send us designs,” we hear. “ONGC’s chairman selects the best design and awards the contract.

But here no designs were called for – the contract was just handed to Sanket.”

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