"Yes, I have put in my papers a few days back; but that's all can say at this point in time," Preet KS Bedi, director, Lowe, told agencyfaqs! on a long-distance call from Mumbai last night. While Bedi refused to say anything about the reason for his decision, or where he is headed for, he indicated an announcement to this effect would be made at the Lowe India headquarters in Mumbai today.
Bedi's decision to move on will bring to an end his 15-year association with India's No 2 advertising agency. In fact Bedi is credited with building the Delhi branch of Lowe from scratch to what it is today. So while the news may well raise a few eyebrows, but word has been out for quite sometime now that Bedi has been 'exploring options outside of Lowe' since January this year. While no confirmation on this was available either from Bedi or from the TBWAAnthem brass, Bedi is tipped to take over as president of TBWAAnthem, the Rs 120-crore advertising agency belonging to the Omnicom Group. The post of president at TBWAAnthem has been lying vacant since Sanjay Nayak (then president & COO at TBWAAnthem) quit the agency to join McCann-Erickson in January 2001.
The rumour mill went into overdrive at the turn of the new financial year when agency honcho Prem Mehta got a two-year extension. But both Bedi and the TBWAAnthem seniors were tight-lipped on the murmur in Delhi's agency circles. However, in an informal conversation with agencyfaqs! a month-and-a-half back, TBWAAnthem chairman and managing director K George John had indicated that he is due to retire in two years and was looking out for a president for the agency, to whom he could pass on the baton. "A head-hunting agency has been appointed for the job and since Preet is the most high profile name on their list, people must have started talking about it. While I cannot tell you at this juncture who the new president will be, I can tell you that he would be someone from outside (outside of TBWAAnthem)," he had said.
The scattered pieces of the jigsaw puzzle seem to be falling in place now.
Lowe insiders insist that Bedi put in his papers close to two months ago and that the 'handing over' process has been on since end May/early June this year. Executive creative director of Lowe, R Balakrishnan is known to have made a couple of trips to Delhi over the last few weeks to meet the 'key' clients of Lowe (including LG Electronics and Wills Sport) and 'appraise them of Bedi's impending move'.
"The Lowe brass wants to make sure the boat is not rocked since Bedi is credited with spearheading the agency in its drive for new businesses," said a Lowe executive. At the Rs 750-crore advertising agency, Bedi was seen as the successor to its current managing director Prem Mehta, who will now retire only in 2004. Last year, the high-profile Bedi was shifted from Delhi to Mumbai to look after the entire non-Lever portfolio of the agency while Pranesh Misra, director, Lowe, took care of the Lever business.
With Bedi leaving Lowe, he would be the second such high-profile exit since HTA's Sunil Gupta, tipped to succeed the incumbent in the top job (Mike Khanna), quit the agency last December. While Gupta is yet to announce his plans after HTA, Bedi has promised to 'officially' announce in decision in a few days' time. © 2002 agencyfaqs!