BBDO India has a new CEO, Ajai Jhala

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | September 17, 2008
Jhala, who served as global communication director on Unilever in his most recent stint with Lowe London, has taken charge of BBDO's India operations


India, which has set up office in India in a phased, but reasonably quick manner, has brought a new chief executive officer on board. Ajai Jhala, who has been freelancing for the past one year and most recently held the position of global communication director on the Unilever account at Lowe London, took on this responsibility on September 15.

Jhala, along with Josy Paul, national creative director and chairman, BBDO India, will report to Chris Thomas, chairman and chief executive officer, BBDO & Proximity Asia Pacific.

In an official press statement, Chris Thomas says, "We are thrilled to be attracting such high profile talent to the network. Jhala's appointment is huge news for our BBDO India operations. He is a well-known brand builder with international experience and an unwavering commitment to 'the work'. Together, Josy and Jhala will be a formidable force. In RK Swamy/BBDO and BBDO India, we now have two very strong and rapidly developing businesses in India."

Ajai Jhala

Chris Thomas

Josy PaulJosy Paul says, "Jhala's experience is wider, deeper and comes from a holistic worldwide perspective. We come from different backgrounds, but we connect at the same point. We believe in the same philosophy. We believe Indian advertising is ripe for a new perspective - one that is founded based on our intrinsic Indian heritage, but influenced by worldwide forces and creative trends. This crossover is where BBDO India will find a new voice."

BBDO, which is less than a year old in the country, has acquired new businesses such as Pepsi's 7Up and HP's Imaging and Printing Group (IPG).

Jhala has worked with the Lintas Group for almost two decades, at various points in his career. During his most recent stint, he joined Lowe in 2002 and was there for six years, shuttling between London, Paris and Bangkok.

Unilever's hair care business required him to work out of London, and he looked after the oral care business from Paris. He was the business and planning head on Omo, the detergent brand, whose name varies, depending on the markets it exists in (in India, it is Surf). The 'Dirt is Good' campaign for the detergent brand was executed across markets such as India, Vietnam, China, Thailand and Indonesia.

Out of the six years that he spent there, he spent four years on the hair and oral care business of Unilever and two years on Omo.

Prior to moving to Lowe, he was with O&M New York for around two years.

Before O&M, he was with Lowe (then Ammirati Puris Lintas), which was his first tryst with the agency. He served in three roles during his first stay. At New York, he served as senior vice-president, planning. At the Mumbai office, he was general manager on the personal care business for Unilever and Cadbury. His third stint was in London, where he played the role of an international coordinator on home care for Unilever.

"After two decades with Lowe/Lintas in Asia, Europe, the US and a brief stint with Ogilvy in New York, I was made an offer I couldn't refuse," Jhala says.

"The union of the right creative partner, the right company and the right country made this the perfect opportunity. Josy is a man whose enthusiasm to create great work for brands in a collaborative manner is infectious and undiminished. BBDO is the best agency network in the world, where the emphasis is on simply producing great work. And I get to return to one of the most exciting markets in the world - one that seems ripe for a new wave of ideas," he adds.

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