It’s a classic ‘mid-line’ crisis. This past year or two, we’ve seen bigwig creative directors ship out of their ad agencies or posts for greener pastures. Their plus-sized shoes, in turn, are being filled by talented, medalled creative directors who are, however, still seen as mid-rung talent, or not yet close to the stars in reputation or charisma. Take Rediffusion DY&R Pvt. Ltd. Its top-drawer national creative director (NCD), K.S. Chakravarthy or Chax, quit fairly recently and that empty chair is being filled by two national creative directors. Some say Everest Brand Solutions rose to new creative heights under national creative director Milind Dhaimade, who left nearly two years ago. That post has now been filled by internally promoting good talent.
Click on creative powerhouse Ogilvy & Mather India Ltd. Its branding is somehow inextricably entwined with the legend of Piyush Pandey; he didn’t leave, but rose to become NCD and chairman of the agency. Daily creative charge for South Asia will now be under four executive creative directors—all renowned names.
Law & Kenneth Ltd (St Luke’s before) launched in this country with the heady brand cachet of world legend Andy Law. Law is not in the picture, any more, and creative helmsmanship of this small agency is in the hands of a talented senior creative director.
Yes, the stars seem to be getting closer to the earth. Blame the descent on a booming economy and scarce big-brand ad talent. Agencies are actually reaping their failure to seed and build pedigreed leadership via concerted intra-industry efforts. Even many global, creatively renowned agencies have delayed their India launch till they get the right leadership. Everyone’s singing: Where have all the good men gone?
There are a few lucky agencies such as JWT India, which has two big-gun creative chiefs in Josy Paul and Agnello Dias. If this practice of double creative leadership gains steam, though, our creative-supremo pool will get even more shallow.
It’s a rite of passage—some of the lesser stars will become icons one day. They’re just getting to lofty perches faster, which may not always bode well for brands in their care. This may also not swing well with clients who love discussing strategy with a Piyush, Chax or Balki (Lintas India Ltd’s creative chief, R. Balakrishnan) over a meal.
Advertising’s about reputation and personalities, and that’s why agencies need stars to shine.
Marion Arathoon is Mint’s advertising editor. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org