DDB, Mudra Group expected to launch new India operation soon

DDB, Mudra Group expected to launch new India operation soon

Mumbai: Global advertising network DDB Worldwide Communications Group Inc. and Mudra Group are expected to launch an independent marketing communications operation in India within months, according to two people familiar with the development.

DDB is part of the $13.4 billion (Rs64,186 crore) marketing communications holding company Omnicom Group Inc. DDB holds a 10% stake in Mudra, with the rest owned by Reliance-Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (R-Adag) chairman Anil Ambani.

DDB is expected to hold a majority stake in all companies that will function under DDB India and Mudra the rest, said a senior Mudra executive and a person familiar with the development who was tapped for a position in the proposed new set-up.

DDB India operations will likely be headed by Sandeep Vij, current chief knowledge officer of Mudra Group.

Mudra’s existing second ad agency, DDB Mudra Pvt. Ltd, which handles Johnson and Johnson skincare brands and Wrigely Co. brands such as Orbit and Doublemint, is expected to move to the new premises of DDB India and will become the main DDB advertising brand.

Mudra’s direct marketing agency Rapp Collins will also be hived off into the new set-up along with interactive agency Tribal DDB, the two persons said.

Madhukar Kamath, managing director and chief executive officer of Mudra Group, declined to comment on the proposed formation of DDB India as a separate entity. He, however, said the information that DDB would be holding a majority in any new operation was incorrect.

“Whatever we are doing, we cannot comment because it is work in progress. Our agenda is to build DDB Mudra as a strong separate entity within the group...," he said.

After the formation of DDB India, the Mudra Group will control the main agency Mudra, Mudra Max, the umbrella media brand that holds media agencies Radar and Connex and the design unit Water, said the executive familiar with the development. Plans are also afoot to buffer the Mudra brand with new unit launches, he said.

DDB Worldwide Communications Group Inc. had $2.8 billion in worldwide revenue for 2008, according to rankings recently published by US trade title Advertising Age. It handles multinational brands such as Volkswagen AG, Royal Philips Electronics NV, Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., Johnson and Johnson and Henkel.

The aim of starting DDB India is to help the ad network service its international clients in India better and to get a bigger chunk of DDB’s global business entering the country.

The proposed formation of DDB India signals a deeper expansion by Omnicom Group into the Indian market, where it has been steadily widening its footprint. The establishment of an independent agency brand such as DDB India would give it a stronger base in the country.

Omnicom’s BBDO Worldwide network started afull-service agency BBDO India in October 2007 in which BBDO Asia holds a majority stake. BBDO Asia also has a minority stake in RK Swamy BBDO Pvt. Ltd. Omnicom’s media specialist, OMD India, was formed in 2007 under the leadership of managing director Jasmin Sohrabji.

Aniruddha Banerjee, president and chief operating officer of Publicis Ambience Pvt. Ltd, says Omnicom is a huge force internationally known for some spectacular work.

“In India, we are still waiting to see something that spectacular from Omnicom," says Banerjee. “Undoubtedly, India is an important market for them and they seem to be doing the right things, but they still have a long way to go in both business and creative reputation."