I’m deep in mixed emotions. On one hand, I’m excited to hear that many of the world’s leading creative hotshops and rebels from the US, the UK and Australia intend coming here on the back of their clients’ India launches. Agencies such as The Campaign Palace, Wieden+Kennedy, Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) and Creative Juice should lead the charge.
But, then, the irony hits me. How many of our creative lights have managed to start their own agencies in recent times? I can think of many who left to forge their own independent creative destinies, only to return to the fold. For example, K.S. Chakravarthy had started his film production unit, but returned to network land as creative chief at Rediffusion DY&R Pvt. Ltd, and now he’s looking at fresh pastures. Adrian Mendonza formed film-making unit Water, and is now executive creative director at Dentsu Marcom Pvt. Ltd.
One possible reason is that some big clients prefer dealing with full-service networks to avoid dealing with multi partners. That’s where the international shops will score, since they handle multinational clients like Unilever overseas. Also, some of them are already international networks or part of such webs, as in BBH.
Some creative directors have even headed creative shops owned by ad networks, but only for a while. Ravi Deshpande helped launch independent agency, Lemon, with the backing of Euro RSCG Worldwide. It closed shutters, though, and he’s now creative chief at Contract Advertising Pvt. Ltd. Creative whiz Josy Paul steered a feisty David, till it merged into Bates Asia. Josy’s now part of JWT India as co-national creative director. Intriguingly, we’re seeing the rise of a second agency system for Ogilvy & Mather Pvt. Ltd called Meridian Communications Pvt. Ltd. One wonders, if there was room for a Meridian, then couldn’t a David have been left alone?
Of course, there are stray examples of new breakouts. Pushpinder Singh, former creative head at Ambience Publicis Advertising Pvt. Ltd, started Saints & Warriors fairly recently. And Raj Kurup, former executive creative director at Grey Worldwide formed CreativeLand Asia. Still, both are in their early days. So, is creative independence better for foreigners in any market?
Our staid ad scenario, for all the massive strides it has made, could do with some shaking up by global iconoclasts like Dan Wieden, John Hegarty or Trevor Beattie. Who knows, we may even get more Lions at Cannes as a result.
Marion Arathoon is Mint’s advertising editor. Your feedback is welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org