The temporary yet nagging vacuum in creative leadership that had arisen at Grey Worldwide's Mumbai office following the recent departures of seasoned Grey hands Sanjay (Sippy) Sipahimalani and Yayati Godbole is all set to be filled. The agency has roped in Raj Kurup - currently creative director at Lowe - as creative director to shoulder the responsibility of leading Grey Mumbai's creative department, effective January 12. Prathap Suthan, national creative director, Grey Worldwide (India), confirmed the news of Kurup's appointment to agencyfaqs!. "I think Raj fits the bill - just the ball of fresh energy that Mumbai needed."
Kurup, who moved to Lowe's Mumbai office (from Orchard Advertising, Bangalore) a little over a year ago, explains that the decision to join Grey was very sudden. "I was not really planning to move out of Lowe," he says. "But some three weeks ago I got a call from Anirudh Mukhedkar (presently head of Grey Bangalore, who is scheduled to move to Grey Mumbai as branch head). Anirudh was looking for a creative head for Mumbai to help partner him. We met and hit it off almost instantly." Kurup adds that his subsequent meetings with Suthan, Ashutosh Khanna (COO, Grey India) and Nirvik Singh (chairman, South Asia, Grey Global Group), helped him make up his mind. "I met them and saw that Grey has a bunch of extremely interesting people who want to put it all together. Apart from a meeting of minds on many things, it was the combined energy of these people that I found infectious."
Despite it being a spur-of-the-moment sort of decision, there is everything to suggest that Kurup has given the Grey offer enough thought. "I am more fond of working in mid-sized agencies," he says, quickly adding, "I enjoyed my time at Lowe, and Balki (R Balakrishnan, executive creative director, Lowe) has been my support base in the agency. But I am more comfortable in mid-sized outfits." As an example, he cites his time at Orchard with Thomas Xavier (whom he terms "the man I learnt so much from") as one of the best in his eight-year career spanning Mudra Communications (where he started out), Leo Burnett, Orchard and Lowe.
Size and stature of agency apart, clearly, the opportunity that Grey afforded Kurup in terms of playing a bigger role in 'agency shaping' was hard to resist. "I have been looking for a larger role within the agency, as I feel I can contribute more," he says. "So when this offer came along, it sounded exciting. Plus there is the challenge of turning things around which is exciting. The brief from Nirvik and Ashutosh is simple - Grey Mumbai has to rock."
If Kurup is looking forward to his assignment at Grey, one man who is much relieved is Suthan. Understandably, for there was a fairly pressing need for someone to take charge of creative at Grey Mumbai. "We needed someone in Mumbai fast," Suthan admits. "We looked at a few other candidates as well, but Mumbai needs a person who can rouse the team. That talent I saw in Raj. We also liked his work, and Balki too spoke highly of him. Raj brings in a nice blend of maturity and youth, and we believe that he in partnership with Anirudh can deliver. He has one full year ahead of him to deliver." Kurup, incidentally, will have full authority and responsibility of Mumbai creative. "I will be an additional strength to him," Suthan says, adding, "I think the speed with which we got our creative head for Mumbai has rejuvenated the entire team."
Grey, Mumbai, it appears, has started the year on the front foot. © 2004 agencyfaqs!