agency is a good example of how to walk against the tide. When foreign direct investment opened in India in 1991 and divestment hadn't even begun, it was amongst the first agencies to sell off stake to an international agency. And now, when forming partnerships and joint ventures with international agencies is becoming a fad among agencies, it is moving in the opposite direction and buying back its stake. That's MAA Bozell or, as it will be called now, MAA Communications, for you.
In what is almost a golden jubilee for the rechristened MAA Communications, MAA Bozell, as it was called until now, is no longer aligned with the Interpublic Group (IPG) owned advertising agency, Bozell International. Bunty Peerbhoy, chairman, MAA Group, has bought back the 29 per cent stake he sold to IPG in 1991.
Bunty PeerbhoyProud of its Indian origin and its strength to survive till date as one of the few independent, indigenous agencies of India, Bunty cites "pride" as the reason for the buyback.
"We believe in the Indian economy and the Indian entrepreneur. We don't wish to have any international alignments, as that means no commitment for India businesses. One has no choice but to give up any competing businesses that we are handling in India, once the globally aligned brands step into the Indian market. We want to continue to be proud of this institution, which is a heritage in itself," says Bunty.
MAA Communications, initially known as Marketing Advertising Associates (MAA) Pvt. Ltd, was founded way back in 1959 by Bunty's father, Ayaz Peerbhoy. Shortly before he passed away, in 1980, Ayaz split the agency geographically between his two sons, Sajid and Bunty. Sajid got the Northern region (the Northeast and Northwest). The Southern region, which mainly comprised Bengaluru and Chennai, fell into Bunty's lap.
Sajid named his half Speer, which was finally sold to O&M around five years ago.
The new logoIn 1987, MAA realised that it had grown beyond simply advertising - it had a public relations function in place, and a retail and financial advertising department, too. So, three independent companies were put in place, which specialised in individual tools. The agency was renamed MAA Communications to signify that it was an overall communications outfit.
Some of the accounts that MAA Communications worked on at the time were Kissan jams and squashes, RayBan sunglasses, Aristrocrat whisky, Nivea talc and cream, Kohinoor condoms and Prestige pressure cookers.
Returning to the present, the group has now launched three verticals to explore new pastures, Sabre Digital, Turn On and Masala Tea. As the name suggests, Sabre Digital will render strategy and consultancy services in the digital marketing space, based on web analytics and who does what on the web.
Turn On is the experiential marketing division, which will take the brand experience to the next level and explore it using mass communication tools, to embed it in the consumer's minds.
Masala Tea looks at embedding and weaving brand messages into various forms of entertainment, such as reality shows, talk shows, feature films and even TV serials.
Talking about the agency's philosophy, Bunty says, "We out-think. Whatever we do or produce in terms of our work is a result of our out-thinking. Creative is a fallout of strategy, and it's never vice versa. Similarly, the ultimate thought and strategy drive economic value, and not vice versa. With the thought and strategy ready, the rest fall into place."
Currently, the agency is handling accounts such as Tata Coffee, Tata Plantations, Biocon, Wipro Infotech and Paramount Airlines.
Buying back the stake was essential, as important decisions need a two-thirds majority (76 per cent voting power); as per the purchase by Bozell International, only 71 per cent was with MAA Communications.
Bunty confirms that parting ways with Bozell has in no way affected the agency and its businesses.