Old wine in new bottles. That cliché could describe some of the relaunches of second ad agencies we continue to witness. As offshoots of their mother ad agencies, second agencies have usually languished in their shadow. Now, many of them are putting on new clothes, in the form of new names, structures, talent and strategy tools but, tragically, the world couldn’t seem to care less.

Marion Arathoon, Mint advertising editor

Again, leading agency JWT India has been repositioning its financial communications agency, Fortune Communications Ltd, as a full-service agency. Iconoclast Josy Paul, who is also co-national creative director at JWT, will now helm Fortune’s creative destiny. Will it get a second breath in terms of business and creative? I also hear that Fortune clients will be able to tap the sweeping network resources of its mother agency, which should synergize resources and cut costs.

A new line is being drawn for Meridian Communications, the young second agency of Ogilvy & Mather India Pvt. Ltd. It has now got a talented creative director in Rensil D’Silva, prestigious business such as the INX media account, and stapled on new branches beyond its Bangalore base. Will the relaunch live up to this fanfare?

And while the ad Goliaths continue to flex their muscles, how can we forget feisty Brand David? It lived first as RMG David, a second agency of O&M. Its ambitions were pan-Asian, even global. Then, it was suddenly relaunched as David with pan-Asian ambitions. The axe fell thereafter, and it was merged with Bates India Pvt Ltd to become Bates David Enterprise Ltd.

Sadly, most second agencies are still not seen as first class, other than a Contract Advertising Ltd, which is the second agency of JWT India. They may be small, but are hardly nimble. They position themselves as challenger brands, but hardly shatter the creative stereotype. They are convenient receptacles for businesses that conflict with the mother agency, but are rarely magnets for juicy new business.

Cosmetic revamps are surface deep. Renewals must go deeper.

Marion Arathoon is Mint’s advertising editor. Your comments are welcome at advalue@livemint.com

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