‘Luring the right talent is the biggest challenge for ad industry’

‘Luring the right talent is the biggest challenge for ad industry’

New Delhi: Rediffusion DY&R Pvt. Ltd, the Mumbai-based marketing communications agency, is in an aggressive revamp mode. The agency, after snubbing Sir Martin Sorrell’s repeated attempts to acquire a controlling stake in the company (Sir Martin’s marketing communications company WPP Plc. owns a 26.67% stake in it through one of its affiliate agencies, Young & Rubicam, and Japan’s Dentsu owns 13.33%), is now trying to make a strong comeback after a period of lull, essentially led by the departure of some senior executives.

The restructuring in the agency has been led by its new president Mahesh Chauhan, appointed 10 months ago. Chauhan, 38, says building a talent pool is imperative for doing “good" work for clients and good work is what will help the agency bolster its image. In an interview with Mint, Chauhan talks about his strategy and growth plans. Edited excerpts:

Rediffusion DY&R seems to be on a hiring spree. There have been some half-a-dozen appointments in the recent past. Your comments.

The creative business is all about talent. If you want to be on the top of the game, you have to invest in talent. Infact, spotting and luring the right talent is the biggest challenge before the advertising industry today.

So, my first priority when I joined office about 10 months ago was to bring in the best of the creative minds to the agency. We have an entire new management team in the last 10 months. We are hiring and restructuring at the entry and mid-level as well. We are strengthening our offices across Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore, and have roped in many well-known professionals to spearhead these units. We have just announced the appointment of Ogilvy & Mather’s Sagar Mahableshwar and AmbiencePublicis’ Ramanuj Shastry as our national creative directors.

You were recently heard talking about abolishing the role of client servicing as an intermediary between the client and the creative. How does it help?

We want to encourage a direct interface between our creative teams and clients. We want them to be directly involved in understanding clients’ expectations, delivering quality products and be accountable for deadlines and the entire operation. This arrangement does away with the need for the client servicing team to act as a conduit between the client and the creative team. It helps create an environment where the duo works in tandem to generate holistic brand solutions and get each other’s total attention.

How have clients responded to the new initiatives?

The restructuring has attracted a lot of attention. In the last few months, we have added Kaya Skin Clinic, ITC in Kolkata and Chennai, Samsung mobile phones in Delhi, Indian and Pure Earth in Delhi, among others, on board. It has been a year of experimentation for us.

By the end of the year, I hope to be zeroing in on what Rediffusion stands for and get down to delivering it.

We see a sudden rush among agencies to either launch or acquire specialized units in the digital and other new areas. Do you plan some new initiatives on this front?

I have a different take on this issue. We need to have specialists, but do they have to work as separate operating units? Do they need to be driven by separate logic? Strategic partnerships with clients get lessened when companies fragment more.

However, we will make sure that all capabilities are met and, even then, should a need arise to launch a separate division, we will consider it.But not now.

And this is the beauty of working with Rediffusion DY&R. We do what we feellike. We are not driven by industry trends or compulsions. Our foreign stake-holders also don’t dictate any terms to us. Through them, we get a lot of global exposure but we function as per our own logic.