Jha has returned home to O&M. He has joined as national creative director for Ogilvy Outreach, the rural activation arm of O&M, which is now a part of OgilvyAction. Based in Delhi, he will oversee creatives from all Ogilvy offices across the country for all clients.
This is not Jha's first stint at Ogilvy Outreach. One of the oldest hands, he was responsible for setting up the division in 1995.
Jha started his career with O&M (then Ogilvy Benson & Mather) in 1984-85 in the media department. In those days, media was a part of the function of the agencies. He moved to Mudra in 1990 for a short stint of about a year, but moved back to O&M in 1991 in the films and creative department. In 1995, he moved to Ogilvy Outreach as it took shape. He was with Ogilvy Outreach till 2005, after which he went on a sabbatical. His home turf beckoned, and he has returned, after three years.
Born and brought up in Bihar, Jha was an avid observer, filmmaker and folk writer in Hindi. He reminisces the days he spent with Prasoon Joshi when the latter was in O&M. He says, "Those times were different. Creative thinking of agencies was required to give the best possible support to clients. There was no media and cable and satellite penetration, and we could be of help to the client only if we were strong in knowledge."
Jha remembers the fun at Ogilvy Outreach in the past. A person in the division was supposed to get two things with him/her when they visited a place - a sample of the local food and a display item. "With words, symbols and a lot of things having different meanings, apart from spreading messages outside the agency, it was also important to teach people within the division. It was a different ball game altogether - erasing political maps from people's minds and getting them to think along social lines," he adds.
Jha realises that a lot has changed in three years. Apart from high media penetration and exposure levels, there is a new pattern in migration too. The understanding of the rural scenario needs a re-look.
Ogilvy Outreach's clients include some of O&M's big clients such as Unilever, Vodafone, ICICI True Life and Dabur. The agency's work for Lifebuoy won recognition at the Emvies 2008.
Samir Gupte, country head, Ogilvy Outreach, and Jha's partner, reveals that there is dedicated team of six members for Outreach- four in Mumbai, and two in Delhi. Currently, Outreach is not present actively in the South in markets where Ogilvy is present - Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. Gupte says that in terms of rural activation, it is the northern belt - UP, Haryana, Punjab etc, that demands more attention, as compared to the southern region.