Mumbai: Interpublic Group (IPG), one of the world’s largest marketing communications conglomerates plans to start another full-service agency here called Pickle to handle business that conflicts with its flagship agency here, Lowe India, and—according to some executives in the advertising business—breathe some new life into Lowe’s existing so-called “second agency” SSC&B Lintas Pvt. Ltd, which will now be merged into Pickle.
A second agency is typically smaller than the main one, handles conflicting accounts, and usually sports a “creative hotshop” tag to make up for its lack of size.
The new agency, which has already begun operations informally, will be wholly owned by IPG, said R. Balakrishnan, chairman, Lowe India. Pickle’s management will report to Stephen Gatfield, chief executive, Lowe Worldwide, and executive vice-president, network operations, IPG, who recently also assumed chairmanship of Lintas India. Lintas India is the larger marketing communications company in India and Lowe India is its advertising arm.
As its name suggests, Pickle hopes to spice up the business. The idea, according to Balakrishnan is to “make Pickle a strong second agency to Lowe India. Pickle will be an ideas hub and will have complete 360-degree capabilities. It will focus on new and emerging areas of business and business that’s blocked to Lowe because of conflict. It will spearhead new ventures, possible joint ventures and will focus on new upcoming areas such as digital.”
Breathing new life: Lowe India chairman R. Balakrishnan says the new agency “will be an ideas hub” and focus on new areas such as digital. (Kedar Bhat / Mint)
Balakrishnan added that Lowe India will have little to do with Pickle’s day-to-day operations and that it will be an entirely independent agency. Former Times Group executive Sumeet Chatterjee will be the president of this new agency while former Rediffusion DY&R Pvt. Ltd’s group head Rahul Jauhari will head the creative function.
IPG has agencies such as DraftFCB+Ulka and McCann Erickson India Ltd here and Pickle will add to the group’s increasing business and creative influence here.
In recent years, some mainstream agencies have been recasting their second agencies in an attempt to revitalize their business fortunes. Young & Rubicam Group (Rediffusion is its main agency) relaunched Everest Integrated Communications as Everest Brand Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
At the other end of the spectrum are agencies that have shuttered their second agencies. For example, Euro RSCG Advertising Pvt. Ltd had Lemon which it closed down.
The demise of SSC&B doesn’t come as a surprise to industry observers. “Pickle could breathe new life into what was SSC&B Lintas—till now seen as an unremarkable and a boring brand. Ashish Bhasin used to be in charge of SSC&B Lintas and post his being given a bigger role, the agency has been orphaned. The new management can set things in motion for what was SSC&B,” said the creative head of a rival agency, who did not wish to be identified.
Mahesh Chauhan, president, Rediffusion DY&R Pvt. Ltd said that while there was vision and concrete purpose behind Young & Rubicam Group launching Everest Brand Solutions, most other ad networks have second agencies that have trouble standing on their own two feet. Chauhan added that the idea “behind launching any second agency ideally ought to be a different business model. Most networks have second agencies that serve as conflict parking set-ups. They share resources with the parent and are not truly independent.” Chauhan said that as a result, clients are fooled into thinking that these are separate set-ups with independent resources.
Ravi Deshpande, chief creative officer, Contract Advertising India Ltd, said that while most second agencies are born so that agencies can park their competitive business, “with changing times, it’s not uncommon that agencies may want to bring changes to their personality and character but may find it impossible to do so because of business considerations.” In such cases, “they can always adopt a new philosophy or ideology through a second agency,” he added.
Contract itself started life as a second agency to JWT India before emerging as a winning brand in its own right.
In the world of second agencies, Mudra Communications Pvt. Ltd has DDB Mudra, which handles more of DDB’s global business.