Pride of ownership—that’s something that tragically eludes most creators of brand ideas. Advertisers rake in millions from their big ideas, as do their holding companies. Most executives of multinational ad networks, however, have no stake in their companies and hence exhibit little entrepreneurial passion. Yes, top Indian executives once held healthy stakes in their ad agencies. But all that changed when these agencies were acquired. In the current context of talent being scarce, the entrepreneurial flame is being lit again, albeit by newcomers: international creative agencies and parallel new agencies being incubated by some multinational networks themselves. StrawberryFrog’s founder Scott Goodson says: “We are in discussions with a select group of people who are currently employed in large holding company-owned agencies who have the drive and ambition, and experience to start StrawberryFrog India. We are an entrepreneur-driven organization and we will most certainly offer the founding partners shares in the business.’’
UK-based Naked Communications Ltd will also set up shop here soon and offer shares to its Indian partners.
Many more firms entering this market will dangle the equity carrot and sign up some of the brightest minds currently working with multinational ad networks. Global companies will retort that these are the recruitment strategies of challenger brands, not of established networks which have to meet analyst expectations every quarter and bear the huge overheads of a global machinery. Still, various digital communication specialists worldwide have been leaving multinational agencies for various new-media companies and start-ups, which offer them challenge and stakes.
My question: What’s to stop holding companies from starting parallel agency models which are driven by co-owners? Surely, these challenger agencies can co-exist with established agencies owned by the international network? Overseas, some holding groups are actually encouraging their pedigreed talent to set up shop under the aegis of the holding group. For example: Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day North America executive creative director Chuck McBride launched Cutwater with the backing of Omnicom.
BBDO India has launched here. Creative man Josy Paul is its chief and also holds stake in the venture. Omnicom’s BBDO network has some outstanding agencies run by creative entrepreneurs, says Paul. Being part of this concept gives Paul a sense of being rooted to a cause, and he finds it creatively inspiring.
Marion Arathoon is Mint’s advertising editor. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org