Senthil Kumar named chief creative officer at JWT India

Kumar’s appointment comes more than two years after Bobby Pawar, JWT’s chief creative officer and managing partner, stepped down


Senthil Kumar (right), the new chief creative officer at JWT India, with 
Tarun Rai, chief executive officer, JWT South Asia. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
Senthil Kumar (right), the new chief creative officer at JWT India, with Tarun Rai, chief executive officer, JWT South Asia. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

New Delhi: J Walter Thompson India on Tuesday named its national creative director Senthil Kumar as the agency’s chief creative officer, giving a digital push to the WPP group marketing communications agency.

Kumar is known for his popular digital films for brands like Nestle (Kit Kat), Pepsi and Nike.

The agency’s chief executive Tarun Rai made the announcement in Mumbai. “Senthil Kumar is my new creative partner. After looking around at people internally, externally and globally, I figured that there was nobody better fitted for the role. When I looked out for people, I realized that there are very few creative people who are thinking digital first,” said Rai, who joined the agency in January this year to spearhead J Walter Thompson South Asia, which includes India, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

“It’s a new world of communication. Creativity is no longer only about the 30-second television commercial. It has to work across platforms. For this new world of communication, I needed a new age creative chief,” he added.

Kumar’s appointment comes more than two years after Bobby Pawar, J Walter Thompson’s chief creative officer and managing partner, stepped down in March 2013 after a campaign the agency had created for automobile company Ford sparked a controversy.

Kumar will lead the overall creative mandate for J Walter Thompson India, across its six offices. He started his journey with the agency nearly 15 years ago when he joined its Bengaluru office. Over the years, he has worked with various offices of J Walter Thompson South Asia and worked for leading brands and companies such as PepsiCo, Nike, Levi’s, Google, Ford, The Times of India, Nestlé, Unilever, ITC, Diageo, ING bank, Kingfisher Beer, MRF Tyres and De Beers, among others. Kumar’s work has won him more than 300 national and international awards, including 16 Cannes Lions.

Happy at being given the mandate to lead the agency which has more than 300 creative people, Kumar said that he had big ambitions and wanted to do cutting edge creative work that’s not been done before.

“I am proud of our current creative firepower across the country and our collective ambition will be to spearhead marketing success stories for our clients with world beating ideas. The way forward is not just language neutral and media agnostic ideas, but to invent platform-specific creative solutions that solve business problems,” he said.

The 42-year-old chief creative officer said he has used the digital and mobile mediums for his clients to connect them with millions of consumers. His understanding of the new age media won him India’s first Cyber Lions and Branded Content Lions at the Cannes International Festival.

“Earlier, you came up with a television advertisement and shared it on YouTube by way of a digital media plan. Not any longer. Now you have to create ads specific to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. The ideas have to be platform-specific,” he said.

In fact, even the new digital platforms are changing. “So, you have to be aware of the changes in the current digital platforms and be prepared for the 10 new platforms that could come up in the future,” he added.

Kumar will be working closely with Matt Eastwood, worldwide chief creative officer, J Walter Thompson, and is on the J Walter Thompson global creative council.

According to Rai, the digital medium has been growing at a 30% clip for the past several years. Digital ad spends follow television and print. “Earlier, digital was smaller than the Outdoor but not any more. Even clients are willing to spend 50% of their budgets on digital media,” Rai said, adding that “creative people who do not think digital first will be dinosaurs”.

Last month, J Walter Thompson launched its global digital agency network Mirum in India by rebranding its social media firm Social Wavelength. “Mirum is a natural progression for us in being a digital-first agency,” Rai had said while announcing the launch in November.

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