Living on the Edge: Everest seeking greater heights

By , agencyfaqs!, na | In Advertising | April 06, 2005
We would like to believe that 2005 was a fluke. It will only serve to drive us harder

Mahesh Chauhan

Advertising is one business that is run on the edge - it is very easy to topple over. And, without a clarity of vision, managing an agency can be disasterous.

The ad industry's recipe to avoid disaster has been to steer away from the edge - straight into the warm, comforting and safe arms of mediocrity. This safety-first approach, more than anything else, explains the current state of the industry - starved of respect, starved of money and facing fundamental questions about its very existence.

Running an advertising agency is one of the simplest jobs in the world. In any case, as they say, life is as difficult as you make it out to be!

Advertising agencies do not deal with many tangibles. The only tangible that matters is people. And this one tangible can impact the destiny of an agency.

Bind a highly talented bunch of people to one common vision, empower and motivate them - they will conquer the world. And that is how the Everest story has begun to unfold itself.

The first step at Everest was to get a highly talented group of professionals together. Maverick leaders and players who were excited (and enticed) by a challenging new vision for the future of advertising. I will talk about the challenge later, but Ani (Aniruddha Banerjee) agreed to give up Leo Burnett to partner the challenge. Sourabh Mishra joined from Ogilvy to take up the mantle of planning. And, Rajiv Rakshit left Publicis to lead Delhi.

Today, with Milind Dhaimade at the helm of creative, the senior management at Everest is probably the finest and the most dynamic team in advertising in India. And, the handpicked second line too has some of the finest talent that the industry can offer.

With people in place, we had to set about defining what the new Everest should stand for. Should it try to be another 'good' agency, or should it challenge the edge? And team Everest collectively chose the edge as the place to flourish at.

There will soon be a time to announce the new Everest philosophy but it's sufficient to say that Everest will evolve as an emblem of path-breaking ideas - both for our clients' brands and for the advertising industry. This is not only a vision owned by all our key people - they are the ones who came up with it.

The resurgence of Everest had started well before the Abbys. What probably escaped the industry's notice before the Abbys was the string of successes that Everest had in new business acquisitions. We converted 90 per cent of the pitches we got invited for, or invited ourselves into. And while numbers cannot be shared, we are already looking at doubling the agency revenue in 2005.

The performance of Everest at this year's Abby was, I dare say, expected and not particularly spectacular. We have set our sights higher. Besides Tortoise, we did some real good work on all our clients. We never choose clients to do good work on; we give our best to every Everest brand.
It is unfortunate that the other brands did not win. Parle-G, for instance, has some outstanding work in the packaged foods category in both film and TV. Zandu Pancharishta broke category communication conventions and redefined its market in a larger context. We were very satisfied with our creatives for Fairone, GPI Red & White Bravery Awards. The list goes on - we had lots of work this year that made us as proud as the Abby winners. We would like to believe that 2005 was a fluke. It will only serve to drive us harder.

When Mr. Adi Patel launched Everest in 1946, Mt. Everest was still unconquered. The mountaineering fraternity saw conquering the mountain as its biggest challenge. Probably, the founder's vision for the agency was to continuously strive for what seems unattainable. Today, we are guided by the same philosophy. The advertising industry needs new paradigms. Brands need greater ammunition. To all of us, a higher Everest beckons and will continue to beckon, always.

(The author is the president of Everest Integrated Communications)

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