Various ad planetary systems are in orbit now. That age-old model of a second ad agency revolving around the powerful mother ship or agency still exists in some spaces. Ad constellations are, however, now gaining ascendancy, whereby various new ad agencies spring up alongside the existing or “first” agency and operate as strong independent planets within such clusters. These agency groups are similar to communications holding companies which have various ad networks that actively compete and collaborate. Will agency groupings come to resemble mini holding companies one day?
R. Balakrishnan (Balki), Lowe India’s new chairman, hopes to not just revive group agency SSC&B Lintas, but also start other Lowe ad agencies—some perhaps devoted to domains such as retail and finance, though it will be interesting to see how he sorts out business conflicts within such verticals. JWT India’s creative chief, Josy Paul, has moved to new agency BBDO India as chairman (BBDO Asia holds the majority stake in the agency).
Paul says there would be two-way collaboration between the agency, its affiliate agency RK Swamy BBDO and their specialist units. With BBDO holding majority stake in BBDO India (unlike RK Swamy BBDO where it holds minority stake), industry folks expect this agency to have its?own?culture?and?attract?young- er, more contemporary clients.
In contrast, Mudra Group’s new agency DDB Mudra is actually a Mudra venture with majority equity holding from Mudra and not international network DDB Worldwide. Its culture would be a blend of Mudra and DDB, similar to ‘first’ agency Mudra Communications Pvt. Ltd, stresses Mudra CEO, Madhukar Kamath, who likens their group to a solar system.
Similar to second agencies, independent ad planets usually handle businesses that conflict with agencies within their system. Also, expect some business aligned with their foreign networks to cruise their way. Global DDB accounts already with Mudra such as Johnson and Johnson Ltd’s skincare brands and Wrigley Co. Ltd’s brands have migrated to DDB Mudra, as will new DDB business entering India, said Kamath in an earlier interview. Meanwhile, will any of BBDO’s global clients with other agencies here now move to the new BBDO?
For holding companies, having more than one ad planet makes sense, especially when they want majority stake in an agency and are unable to get local agency partners to part with more stake. For constellation members, though, the challenge would be to truly collaborate without viewing each other as threat for the global company’s favour.
Marion Arathoon is Mint’s advertising editor. Comments are welcome at email@example.com