JWT, India, eyes acquisitions in the digital and new media space

By , agencyfaqs! | In Advertising | October 20, 2006
On his first visit to India, Bob Jeffrey, CEO and chairman, JWT Worldwide, spoke about his plans for India, which include acquisitions in the activation, digital and new media arenas in 2007

On his first

visit to India, Bob Jeffrey, CEO and chairman, JWT Worldwide, talked about his plans for JWT India and how the new avenues for communication are catching up in this country. "India is an important market for JWT and it is growing at a fast rate. And I'm not talking about only GDP or population growth, but, more importantly, the growth of brands here," says Jeffrey. According to him, JWT, India, is among the top ten offices worldwide, which contribute in the most significant manner to JWT's overall revenues.

Jeffrey stresses on the importance of the digital space and how it impacts JWT as an agency. "Now most clients are eyeing digital media to get to consumers. In the US and Western Europe, digital is a huge priority for us," Jeffrey says. "In fact, digital is at the centre of the agency now. We will instill the same culture in India."

In order to do that, JWT, India, is eyeing acquisitions in three spaces - brand activation, digital (Internet/ mobile) and other new media avenues. Michael Maedel, president, JWT Worldwide, will steer the process in Asia, particularly India.

"Contrary to popular belief, clients have a large appetite for non-traditional media, even in India," Jeffrey says. He gives the example of executives at Ford (JWT's biggest client globally), who are looking at creating work in the non-traditional space. "Blogs and the retail point experience (point-of-purchase) are becoming extremely important for us," he says. In the retail space, particularly, the WPP Group (which owns JWT) has several assets, which JWT, India, will now use.

Jeffrey is quite pleased with the way things have changed for the agency after it was renamed 'JWT' from the earlier 'J Walter Thompson'. "The creative bar at the agency has been raised since," he says. "We won 35 Lions at Cannes this summer. JWT, India, was on the verge of bagging the Grand Prix for Levi's Slim Jeans and it walked away with a gold nevertheless. This creative recognition in the form of awards, that too for most of our big-ticket clients, is a good sign."

For India, too, things seem to be looking up. JWT, India, whose creative product was frowned upon two-three years ago, has now revamped its creative offering - a move that the industry and consumers are noticing. And according to Jeffrey, the credit goes to the young Indian team steered by Bruce Matchett and Agnello Dias. "Aggie has done a great job in turning the agency around. Under his guidance, we're doing some different and effective work."

He describes the Pepsi 'Ooh Aah India' campaign, the Sunsilk 'Gang of Girls' blog, the work on Levi's Slim Jeans and the recent Lux campaigns as completely different from what JWT used to do earlier. "Our New York and London offices used to be a bit arrogant, thinking that good advertising comes from there alone. Now they may have to rethink their stance," quips Jeffrey.

JWT has also roped in a global planning director, Guy Murphy. He comes from BBH, London, where he was deputy chairman. Jeffrey expects Murphy's arrival to create a fine balance between creative and strategy.

Jeffrey concludes on a thoughtful note. "MNCs drive our businesses in most markets, but in India, I have noticed that JWT has a rich roster of local clients as well," he says. "We will continue to build on our local strength here."

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