"I would be taking additional charge of Lowe, Delhi, along with my earlier responsibilities of Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata offices," Fali Vakeel, regional director, Lowe, told agencyfaqs!, during his whistle-stop tour of Delhi yesterday. Vakeel, however, added, "It would be wrong to say I am succeeding Preet (Bedi). Rather, it would be correct to say my role has been expanded with the addition of Delhi to my existing portfolio." Vakeel made it clear he will not be involved in the functioning of Lowe's Mumbai branch.
Like Bedi, Vakeel is a Lowe veteran having put in 20 years in the organisation and a few years before that in HTA and McCann-Erickson. Agency insiders say Vakeel was the obvious choice given his role in spearheading the growth of the three branch offices of Lowe. Among the top accounts of Lowe, Bangalore, are Hindustan Lever (Foods), Titan, Tanishq and Britannia; Chennai counts MRF, Hindu and RPG among its key clients with Lowe, Kolkata, throwing in its full weight behind ITC.
Vakeel, in a sense, would be stepping into the shoes of Bedi, who during his 15-year association with India's No 2 advertising agency, led Delhi with great aplomb, spearheading the agency in its campaign for new businesses. In fact, Bedi was widely seen as the successor to agency honcho Prem Mehta who was supposed to have retired by the turn of this financial year. When 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), the move was seen as a step towards ensuring a smooth transition.
With Mehta getting a two-year extension in April 2002, the whole scenario seemed to change at Lowe. In two months' time, Bedi announced his resignation leaving the chair of the Delhi head, as well as that of the linchpin of new businesses, empty on his way out. Vakeel, it is apparent, has his task cut out for him. It is not certain where he would be based though. Vakeel, who was earlier based in Bangalore, said he would be "spending as much time in Delhi, if not more, as Preet did to discharge the responsibility" vested in him.
While Lowe executives in Delhi indicated that an official announcement on Vakeel's appointment was awaited, Vakeel, on his turn, refused to say if this move can be viewed as his designation as the possible successor to managing director Prem Mehta who retires in 2004. © 2002 agencyfaqs!