afaqs!

Is all okay at St Luke's, Mumbai?

By , agencyfaqs! | In | November 08, 2003
A team of eight people in the creative department are said to have put in their papers


This is perhaps not the best thing to happen to an agency that has just about completed 13 months. But then this may not be something the advertising industry is unfamiliar with. We are talking about mass resignations, downsizing, restructuring - call it what you may, but what cannot be ignored in this case is the fact that the management and a clutch of ex-employees of this particular advertising agency are obviously at loggerheads on this issue.

It all began with this call we received from a senior source in the industry informing us that the entire creative team at St Luke's, which started operations on October 2, 2002, has called it quits. To ascertain the veracity of the claim we contacted Praveen Kenneth, managing director of the agency. He dismissed the whole thing saying he is, in fact, beefing up the creative team and that we could look forward to some important announcements around November 15.

That was the day before - that is, Thursday, November 6. We decided to lay the whole thing to rest as there was very little information "on record" on what was really happening at the agency, and, in any case, senior officials at St Luke's reassured us that it was "only a handful of junior guys" who have been handed the pink slip.

But we were wrong… wrong about the fact that we could lay the whole thing to rest.

November 16. We get a call on behalf of the 'team' that has quit St Luke's saying the members of the team wish to put forth their point of view on this incident.

In about a couple of hours, we hear from Vistasp Hodiwala, senior creative custodian, St Luke's. Here's the gist of his email:

"We, the undersigned, who made up the entire creative team of one of India's fastest growing advertising set-ups, St. Luke's, have resigned from the agency en masse as of November 5, 2003. This unfortunate decision has come about due to grave differences of opinion with the management on a regular basis in almost every field of creative and advertising endeavour.

"This official statement doesn't merely aim to set the record straight for our clients, who we have enormous respect for and the advertising fraternity from whom no such story is a secret for long, but to also nip in the bud, wild and patently false statements by the management that a team of 'mere juniors' has been sacked on account of incompetence. It's another matter altogether that such all-round creative incompetence was rewarded just last month with a five day trip to Thailand!"

The note was signed by "The original St Luke's Creative Team" comprising:

Vinayak Upadhyay: senior creative custodian (years of experience: 14)

Kiran Waval, creative custodian (years of experience: 10)

Vistasp Hodiwala, senior creative custodian (years of experience: 9)

Geetanjali Pandey, senior creative custodian (years of experience: 8)

Maneesh Phatak, creative custodian (years of experience: 7)

Siddharth Deo, creative custodian (years of experience: 5)

As it transpired, two other people have also put in their papers, taking the number of resignations to eight.

We spoke to Kenneth again. He said, "Each of our clients who have assigned us business are clear that they expect high quality thinking backed by great creative product.

"Our planning team has done a great job in helping us win business along with our creative team, but there has been a constant need for us to up the calibre and maturity of our creative team.

"To this effect we had began restructuring our creative team by bringing in new senior talents to strengthen and drive our business. This meant that we had to ask a few non-performers to leave to facilitate the new teams coming in. The new restructure didn't go well with the few creative people and hence this tantrum.

"Of the few who left with tantrums some were my favorites and they are good, but am sad that they have a bit of a wrong attitude.

"I can only wish them the very best in every thing."

agencyfaqs! has heard what both sides have to say; quite obviously we haven't heard the last on this yet. © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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