Publicis' new power structure: Bobby Pawar, Partha Sinha, Ambika Srivastava

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | May 31, 2013
Bobby Pawar has been appointed director, chief creative officer, South Asia; Partha Sinha has been named director, chief strategy officer, South Asia; and Ambika Srivastava will be director, marketing and new business, India. The trio will also join the management board of Publicis India.

Bobby Pawar

Partha Sinha

Ambika Srivastava

In a significant development, Publicis Worldwide has announced a new leadership team for South Asia and India. Bobby Pawar, former chief creative officer and managing partner, JWT, has been appointed director and chief creative officer, South Asia; Partha Sinha, former managing partner, BBH has been named director and chief strategy officer, South Asia; and former chairperson of ZenithOptimedia, Ambika Srivastava will be director, marketing and new business, India.

Further, all three will join the management board of Publicis India and will report to Nakul Chopra, CEO, South Asia, Publicis Worldwide. On the appointments, Chopra says, "I am delighted to have people of such calibre join our leadership team. Each is arguably among the best in their specialisations. I am confident they will add to the quality of our output, the quality of Publicis management in India and the value we deliver to our clients."

Erik Vervroegen, global creative director, Publicis, adds, "Bobby is just the kind of talent that we believe can take our creative product in India to the next level. I am very happy to have Partha join him as a partner."

Meanwhile, at BBH India, Sanjay Sharma, senior strategy director, will be promoted to take on the role of head of planning at the agency. On his promotion, he tells afaqs! that he looks forward to working closely with Russell Barrett (managing partner, creative, BBH India) and to turn his attention to accounts that he was less actively involved with earlier, for example Marico, Acer and World Gold Council.

About stepping into Sinha's shoes, he says, "Partha has been a pillar of strength and a great mentor. They are big shoes to fill."

On Sinha's exit, Subhash Kamath, managing partner, BBH India, says, "We'll miss Partha as we've been friends and colleagues for years. He's done a wonderful job for us," adding about Sharma's promotion, "Both Russell and I are delighted that Sanjay is being able to seamlessly step into those shoes. He's been with us right from the start, knows all our brands well. We have no doubt that he'll be able to lead our focus on strategic planning."

Gwyn Jones, global CEO, BBH, says he is glad on two counts; that Sinha will stay within the Publicis Groupe and that BBH India has someone of Sharma's calibre to step into his role.

It may be recalled that in March, Pawar was asked to step down from his former role at JWT in the wake of a much-talked about controversy involving a series of objectionable print creatives for the car brand, Ford.

Pawar and Sinha claim they have wanted to work together as a team for a while now. In conversation with afaqs!, Sinha says about working with Pawar, "We appreciate each other's way of thinking. He likes my kind of planning and I like his kind of creatives. We instinctively understand each other and have good 'tuning'. Also, our worldviews are aligned."

How is it that the two didn't get together to start their own agency, then, we wonder. Sinha replies that the duo was keen to focus on the work from Day One, something that doesn't happen in a start-up because other concerns like P&L vie for the founders' attention. "The advantage of joining a reasonably scaled place is that you can hit the deck running," he says.

For Ambika Srivastava, on the other hand, this is a great way to "lead the change" in today's environment, as paid, earned and owned media are bringing a complete perspective to a client's business. "It's a competitive environment," she tells afaqs!, "and that's what makes it challenging, but when you're focused and know what you want, you get there." She has been associated with the Publics Groupe for the last 10 years.

Sanjay Sharma

According to Jean-Yves Naouri, chief operating officer, Publicis Groupe and executive chairman, Publicis Worldwide, these hires confirm the group's ambitions to invest in top talent in India. "We (the Publicis Groupe) are fortunate to have both, the opportunity to bring exceptional talent like Ambika, Bobby and Partha into strategic leadership roles for Publicis Worldwide, and to promote new talent like Sanjay into the lead planning role at BBH," he says.

For the record, the Publicis Groupe has set itself the target of doubling its size in India between 2010 and 2015. This India-specific goal is in line with the group's plans to boost revenue from other fast-growing markets. In December 2012, the group acquired two independent outfits in India, namely, iStrat, a Delhi-headquartered integrated digital agency and MarketGate, a Mumbai-based strategic business and marketing consulting firm.

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