Raghu Bhat bids farewell to Contract

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | November 10, 2009
His decision to move on comes days after his partner Manish Bhatt put in his papers at the agency. Bhat, who is taking a break from advertising, will now concentrate on his new venture, Fungus Design

Raghu Bhat, senior vice-president and executive creative director, Contract Advertising, has decided to move on. His decision comes days after his partner Manish Bhatt put in his papers at the agency to pursue his ambition as the communications advisor for the state of Gujarat.

Bhat tells afaqs! that he is not quitting advertising altogether but taking a break from the industry for a few months. Currently, he has two priorities: the first is to concentrate on building his maiden venture, Fungus Design, which will deal in manufacturing and marketing designer laptop bags. Secondly, Bhat will assist his wife, Prachi Bhat, in her 2.5 year old garment label boutique, Taxxi and Vitamin K store (at Khar, Mumbai), where he shall play the role of a branding advisor.

& #BANNER1 & #"Taxxi has a good clientele, with top models, TV serial actors and foreigners as its patrons," says Raghu Bhat, adding that his primary task there will be to build the brand online as well as at retail touch points.

As far as Fungus Design is concerned, Bhat is tying up with graphic designers and skilled artisans from around the world. Currently, the model is one of e-commerce: one can place orders for various laptop bags online through Fungus' website. In addition to this, the bags will also be available at Taxxi. While that's a soft launch of sorts, the plan is to launch it officially at an art gallery in some time, following which Bhat will be in talks with various retailers to have the brand stocked at relevant retail stores.

Bhat will oversee all aspects for Fungus Design, including putting a team in place, designing, production, marketing, licensing and merchandising. Fungus Design will make use of online media heavily for its advertising, including social networking sites, blogs and search engine optimisation.

Bhat is leaving his options open. He says, "I will return to advertising after some months, mostly with my partner Manish." The duo may start a venture later, but details are sketchy at this point.

Bhat started his career at Contract, Delhi in 1996, where he was first acquainted with Manish Bhatt. The duo has since served three years each at Ogilvy India, Publicis Ambience and McCann Erickson respectively, apart from a one year stint at Bates Clarion (now Bates 141). In 2007, Bhat returned to Contract for a second stint.

Bhatt and Bhat have worked together as a copy-art team since the beginning of their careers. At Contract, some of the brands they have contributed to include Tata Indicom (Suno dil ki awaaz launch), Aegon Religare, Domino's (Khushiyon ki home delivery), Cadbury Celebrations and Asian Paints Tractor Emulsion (the Budget Wedding campaign).

Other accounts they have worked on during their careers include Parachute, Nerolac Allscapes, Planet M, Nutrela, Whitehall Whisky, Tata Press Yellow Pages, Elle 18 and Sil.

The duo was also behind the Goafest campaign in 2008 and has won several awards including the Abby's, AAAIs, Cannes and D&AD.