NEW DELHI: Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Hindustan Unilever are regarded as the companies delivering the best marketing in India, a survey of business leaders in the country has found.

The Economic Times, the newspaper, and IMRB International, the research firm, polled 617 senior executives, who named Vodafone, the mobile telecoms giant, as India's premier marketer.

In the last year, Vodafone – which takes 21% of category revenues in India – ran ads starring the Zoozoos, its popular animated characters, a campaign supporting the Vodafone Blue Facebook phone, and a Formula 1 sponsorship programme.

"The market has graduated from just looking at shares in terms of the number of subscribers to revenue-share as a true indicator," Kapil Arora, who heads Team Vodafone at Ogilvy Mumbai, the firm's agency.

"The next level of growth in this overcrowded category will come from the non-voice component as also the Tier-3 and the rural feeder markets."

Bharti Airtel, a rival to Vodafone holding a 28% share of sector revenues, came second in the rankings. Bharat Bambawale, its global brand director, predicted that the current intense competition in the Indian market was unlikely to abate.

"The game is about who will finally have the clearest voice in an otherwise noisy market and we are naturally aspiring for that voice," he added.

Companies from the FMCG segment filled the following five spots, in the form of Hindustan Unilever, Cadbury, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and ITC, according to the analysis.

Sony, the electronics manufacturer, claimed eighth place, and has announced it will ramp up its Indian marketing budget from the present figure of Rs360 crore rupees in the coming fiscal year.

"We plan to make an investment of Rs 450 crore in this financial year, which will be in sync with the business growth," said Masaru Tamagawa, managing director of Sony India.

Tata Motors, the carmaker, and Samsung, the electronics group, rounded out the top ten. Nokia, the mobile handset specialist, Idea Cellular, the telco, and Procter & Gamble, the FMCG operator, came next.

Within the overall results, there were some regional differences, with Vodafone taking top spot in the south and west of the subcontinent, a position occupied by Sony in the north and Hindustan Unilever in the east.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff