David plans to go global

By , agencyfaqs! | In Advertising | March 28, 2006
Digby Richards, CEO, and Judd Labarthe, regional head, planning, from David were in India recently and spoke to agencyfaqs! about David's plans and strategies for 2006. A look at what the agency is up to

With CNN-IBN and

the new range of products from the house of Emami in its pocket, David seems to be on a roll. The agency has quite a few plans up its sleeve, chief of which is to become a global network in a few years from now and explore lands beyond Asia.

"But we will be rather different from other global networks," says Digby Richards, CEO, David, Asia Pacific. While most other global networks are homogenous in nature, David will localise its services to suit the demands of individual markets. But this is still in the planning stage and the details are yet to be worked out.

David is also in the process of positioning itself as an agency that offers quick solutions. "It is not only consumers who are hard-pressed for time, clients want quick solutions, too," Richards says.

He adds, "On one hand, we will do our homework and have a strategy in place, but we will continue to rely largely on our gut instinct and insights from real life. No amount of research can replace those learnings."

However, Judd Labarthe, regional head, planning, David, specifies that contrary to popular belief, David is not some creative hot-shop with an 'all heart, no brain' approach. "Thinking for brands is great, but thinking takes time," he says. "We prefer to achieve a good balance and 'feel' brands as well. That accelerates processes. Research findings indicate that decision making is driven largely by emotions."

The agency is also in the discussion stage on opening two new offices in India - in Bangalore and Hyderabad. Currently, David has offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Bangkok, Jakarta, Taipei and Tokyo.

In addition, an extensive training programme in the form of a road show has been launched, in which senior David executives will tour the 10 David offices in the Asia Pacific region and assess the strengths and weaknesses of each office. The road show will continue till mid-April.

"The aim is to get inputs and feedback from all our offices and apply them to improve our offering," says Richards. "We hope that every office can learn from the experiences of the others."

Richards feels that the 'spirit' of David is most alive in India, where the agency first took birth six years ago, and Jakarta. The agency recently launched David Imagineering in India, a unit specially dedicated to planning. With this, David now has two special units - David Imagineering and Wall Street David (the out-of-home unit). So, is David going the 'specialisation' way, too, just like the other agencies?

"I wouldn't use the term specialisation," says Richards. "Planning and out-of-home were a part of our offering earlier as well. We have just branded them recently."

"Besides," he adds, "we will never position David as a total solutions agency, like the others. We believe in offering the right solution, as opposed to a 360-degree solution approach."

According to the Davids, the ad isn't always the answer. "Sometimes, an activation idea or a PR idea may do better than an ad one. That is what we mean by right solutions," says Richards.

Another significant development is the new responsibilities bestowed upon Josy Paul, national chairman, David, India. He has been made the agency's regional creative director at the Asia Pacific level, in addition to his role at David, India. His mandate will be to raise the creative bar of the agency in the Asia Pacific region.

David is also eyeing business from specific sectors this year. These include big-ticket brands in sectors such as automobiles, telecom, finance, retail, personal care products and FMCG. "In a sense, our team is expanding, hence, we would want to keep a bigger portfolio of clients in our kitty," Richards says.

But Labarthe is quick to clarify that this does not imply that David is shedding its small image. "Small is more about attitude than size," he says.

David plans to roll out a Star of David exchange programme, under which one person from the David team from any one office will be selected and offered a chance to work for two weeks in other David offices, giving him exposure thereby to his fellow 'brothers and sisters'.

This person will then make a presentation on his learnings at the Annual David Summit, a concept introduced this year. David executives feel this is the perfect way to reward an employee who shows the most promise. It's a win-win idea for David, as the individual will grow in his career and the agency will learn from his feedback.

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