MCI EFFORT HAS FLAVOR OF INDIA;CAN A U.S.-BOMBAY ROMANCE WORK?

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The Taster's Choice coffee that Tony and Sharon are drinking must be getting a little cold by now. Rahul and Rohini, advertising's latest darlings, are stealing all the heat with their long distance romance brought to you by MCI Communications Corp.

The $1 million-plus TV campaign, created by MCI's Indian marketing team with InfoPacific Communications, New York, launched the first of an initial three spots on June 3 in 10 cities across the country, including Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. The spots are set to run through yearend.

Targeted primarily to Indians-of which there are more than 1 million in the U.S.-the ads suspensefully chronicle the arranged meeting and subsequent affair of young Rahul, attending school in the States, and Rohini, a mysterious girl back home in Bombay.

"About 95% of all Indian marriages are arranged," said Eamonn O'Brien, international marketing manager at MCI. "So we think not only Indians will be interested in this story, but Americans are intrigued by the culture as well."

MCI traveled to Bombay to film the spots and used a cast and production team comprised entirely of Indian talent.

Will the campaign follow the travails of long distance lovers Rahul and Rohini through marriage? "That's something you'll have to wait and see," Mr. O'Brien said.

But then, consumers are used to waiting and seeing when it comes to MCI ads. The "Gramercy Press" campaign from Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG that broke last September offered up such drama as will Darlene the receptionist get together with the creepy sales guy (she hasn't); will the fictitious publishing company get the big book deal (it did); .....and what about the author and the editor?

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