FCB Ulka seeks a digital agency to boost image

The acquisition of a digital agency will further FCB Ulka Group CEO Rohit Ohri’s drive to strengthen the ad agency’s creative and planning divisions


Rohit Ohri, group chairman and chief executive of FCB Ulka Group. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Rohit Ohri, group chairman and chief executive of FCB Ulka Group. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

New Delhi: FCB Ulka, the 50-year-old Interpublic Group (IPG) agency is busy scouting for a digital partner or a digital agency to buy.

“My biggest priority is to acquire a digital agency which I’m hoping to announce by the end of the year,” said Rohit Ohri, who took over as the group chairman and chief executive of FCB Ulka Group in January.

Since then, he has sought to strengthen the agency’s creative and planning divisions, hired people for the soon-to-be launched content division, FCB Play, and set up an in-house hybrid agency, Bushfire.

Since January, Ohri has hired several top-notch professionals. Swati Bhattacharya, his colleague from his former agency JWT, came on board as chief creative officer in February.

On the planning side, FCB Ulka acquired its former employee Suman Srivastava’s brand consulting firm Marketing Unplugged in March. Srivastava is now the vice-chairman and chief strategy officer at the company. Saad Khan who co-founded Marketing Unplugged also joined FCB as vice-president, strategic planning in April.

The FCB Ulka team. (From left) national creative director Surjo Dutt, chief creative officer Swati Bhattacharya, CEO Rohit Ohri; executive planning director (north) John Thangaraj, and president (north and east) Debarpita Banerjee. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/ Mint
The FCB Ulka team. (From left) national creative director Surjo Dutt, chief creative officer Swati Bhattacharya, CEO Rohit Ohri; executive planning director (north) John Thangaraj, and president (north and east) Debarpita Banerjee. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/ Mint

The agency is also exploring new streams of revenue in the form of a new branded content marketing division called FCB Play headed by Debarpita Banerjee who joined the agency as president, north and east.

Still in the incubation stage, FCB Play will primarily be creating audio video content, branching into on-ground and even stand-up acts.

Apart from FCB Play, the agency has also launched Bushfire which is primarily focused on start-ups. Bushfire is looking at clients who want agencies to work on a project basis and need disruptive campaigns done quickly.

Even as he rebuilds FCB Ulka, Ohri has an eye on the main chance—more business. The agency currently services a host of brands including ITC Retail (John Players), Whirlpool, Bausch & Lomb, Cargill Foods, Kohinoor Basmati Rice and has long-standing clients such as Amul, Zee and Hero MotoCorp.

R.S. Sodhi, MD, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation that sells milk and milk products under Amul brand, calls FCB Ulka a founding member of his business. The agency has been working on the Amul account for 30 years creating memorable campaigns such as ‘The taste of India” one.

Ohri’s biggest battle is to change the perception FCB Ulka being a traditional mainline agency, according to Prathap Suthan, managing partner and chief creative officer at the agency Bang in the Middle.

“Before Rohit came on board, FCB had the old media feel to it. A lot of agencies are fighting the changing world of communication or the emergence of new media. Most of them are also headed by people who are products of traditional media which is why they acquire young agencies. But I believe Rohit is a good business man and more importantly he understands new media,” Suthan added.

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