"We love advertising. We have a common vision. And, we're back," states Rajiv Agarwal, ad veteran, who is back in the advertising circuit after a few years' break. The occasion is the re-launch of Nexus Equity -- the agency that was founded over 25 years ago and became popular in the '90s, the agency that few ad folk would be unfamiliar with.
For Nexus Equity's new avatar, Agarwal has joined hands with his ex-colleague and friend, Arun Kale. The agency will be positioned on the premise, "Small is bigger".
A walk down memory lane
Agarwal and Kale go back 30 years. In 1985, the duo (which had worked together earlier in Rediffusion) partnered to start Nexus Advertising, because it seemed "the right thing to do".
In 1994, Nexus Advertising was set up Delhi, where it handled the turnaround for Indian Airlines. This was followed by Bengaluru operations in 1995, where brands such as Van Heusen and Iodex were developed. The agency had grown to house 200 people by then, and had become profitable, with immense momentum. At one point, the agency grew to the size of Rs 100 crore. "Those were exciting times," chuckles Agarwal.
After a rather remarkable run, Nexus Advertising merged with Equity in the early '90s, and became Nexus Equity. Around 1997, its businesses were combined with Mohammad Khan's Enterprise Advertising to form a new company, Enterprise Nexus. This also involved foreign equity participation from the London-based Lowe Group.
Interestingly, despite the formation of Enterprise Nexus, the original Nexus Equity continued to exist legally, but as a dormant entity. It is this entity that is now being revived.
More than just heritage value
As an agency brand, Nexus (later, Enterprise Nexus) has the legacy of some noteworthy campaigns. 'One Black Coffee' for Ericsson mobile phones, which was India's first win at Cannes (a silver Lion in the Film category) and was recreated in 26 countries by the advertiser, is unforgettable. Also remembered is the agency's work for 8pm Whisky (the 'Border' film), The Economic Times, Femina ('Woman of Substance') and The Times of India ('A day in the life of India').
Cut to the present
Around the year 2000, Agarwal and Kale moved out of Enterprise Nexus. Kale formed his own design studio, while Agarwal joined WPP's rmg david, and subsequently, Bates (now called Bates 141).
A few weeks ago, Kale and Agarwal met and decided to revive Nexus Equity. The agency is on the hunt for businesses, particularly suiting brands (the Raymond heritage should help, feels the duo), and print media brands (the BCCL work should help on that front).
Will it be more of a struggle now, considering that much has changed in advertising since Nexus Equity last saw the light of day? "Yes, the sheer amount of competition, particularly in pitches, is fierce now. I recall days when a handful of agencies pitched for one business. Today, we have 30 agencies pitching for one business!" exclaims Agarwal.
Kale too, is well aware of the competitive scenario, but the duo is determined to make it work. The agency has a strong pedigree to begin with, and hopes to build on that reputation with some more extraordinary work.
"No one is going to give us business because we're senior guys, or because we have done good work in the past," says a realistic Agarwal. "You're only as good as your last campaign. We're lucky people know us because we have been around a long time, but we hope to let our work speak for itself."
Kale and Agarwal hope to work with half-a-dozen clients over the next few years. They will bring to the table the positives of their experiences of having worked in large agencies, combined with the benefits of a small setup -- being directly involved in a client's business, and eliminating bureaucracy and unnecessary layers.
The team comprises 10 people presently, but that number is likely to grow in the near future.