Shamni Pande

Mahesh Chauhan to oversee Rediffusion's southern operations

Chauhan's agenda is to make Rediffusion the most favoured agency on the list of prospective clients down south

Clearly there's an agenda before Mahesh Chauhan, vice-president, Rediffusion DY& R, who has just taken charge of the southern operations for the agency. He joined Bangalore office in mid-January this year and was instrumental in ‘initiating' the Louis Philippe pitch. "My mandate is to create a churn in the southern markets as I am now in charge of overseeing operations for Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Colombo," Chauhan told agencyfaqs!. He returned to Rediffusion, Mumbai, in September 2002, and within a few months was asked to assume charge of the agency's Bangalore and Kolkata offices and eventually "streamline operations" down south.

"I have to see that Rediffusion gets to the list of being the ‘most-favoured' agency for clients in the south, and for our existing clients to know that they work with the best. There is a difference between being comfortable in a relationship and knowing when one is with the best. Somehow, the agency has not managed to create that buzz for itself in this region," Chauhan added.

In saying so Chauhan has taken cognizance of the fact that the agency seems to have slipped in the south due to its emphasis on "nationally relevant" clients such as Bharti Telecom with its brands Airtel and Touchtel. He also admitted that for Rediffusion the Louis Philippe pitch - where it reached touching distance in the final round, only to lose out to Contract - was still a ‘success' as the agency had not even been invited for the presentation in the first place! "The client was open enough to consider our initiative and allow us to be part of the exercise," he agreed. Rediffusion's aggressive stance served its purpose: It made the community of clients and agencies take note of it at a theatre where the agency was "barely present".

For the record, Chauhan in his career spanning 11years, has carved for himself an aggressive image for his ability to grab new businesses. He started his innings with O&M in 1992 and joined Rediffusion in 1995. Two years later he joined Leo Burnett and in 1998 he returned to O&M as regional business director for Castrol and Bharat Petroleum (in charge of Africa, Middle-East and South Asia). During this period he established his prowess by bringing in the Grasim, TATA, Bajaj Auto, VIP (undergarments), Playwin, Pfizer and Amaron accounts.

About his current agenda he said, "The idea is to see that teams in various offices get that feeling of being the best and simultaneously move on to grab new business. Of course, we have to ensure that we do fantastic work on existing accounts as they are, after all, living proof of our ability. I intend to go city by city instead of mindlessly rushing from one place to the other. Currently, I am concentrating on Bangalore."

Out of Bangalore Rediffusion handles prestigious clients like ING Vysya, UB Group's liquor brand Signature, REVA and Deutsche Software. In Chennai, its biggest account by far is Citibank. Besides these, the agency sevices its Delhi client Airtel and Touchtel out of all the three cities for their local needs. Its sister concern Paragon in Chennai handles Thompson TV.

However, all the offices down south are headed by branch heads. For instance, Bangalore is headed by S Madhusudhan, Chennai by Sonny Deenadayalan, Hyderabad is looked after by Jyotsna Chauhan and the Colombo office by Arvind Hoon. Incidentally, the Colombo office is called Advantage DY&R, Sri Lanka, and its major clients include Singer, Philips Lighting, S-Lon, Yellow Pages and ICLM. © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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