Sumita Vaid

St Luke's turns two; Anil S Nair is made COO

Coinciding with celebrations of the anniversary is the announcement of Anil S Nair, who was senior vice-president, St Luke's, being elevated to the position of COO

St Luke's has turned two and going strong. Yes, detractors had concluded that St Luke's should pack its bags and head home when the agency's senior creative team bid adieu, en masse.

Far from breaking the spirit of its people, this event helped the agency focus more. "Nothing really changed, we only worked harder in finding people who really believe in the spirit of our working ethos. It also helped us being much less stupider," says managing director of St Luke's, Praveen Kenneth.

Today, when the agency turned two, St Luke's reflects a kind of self assuredness and confidence. And, also great bonhomie - all the 48 people of the agency, till day-before-yesterday were in Goa - celebrating its second anniversary in style! October 2 was St Luke's anniversary.

"I think nothing holds people better together than the sense of unbridled freedom to be what they want to be. And, also get paid for it. At St. Luke's, we encourage that. We believe every individual has to create his/her own're certainly more capable than the position described in your business card."

In fact, coinciding with celebrations of the anniversary is the announcement of Anil S Nair being elevated to the position of COO. He was the senior vice-president of St Luke's. In addition to this, Anil K Nair and Sandhya Srinivasan, both heads of strategic planning, have been promoted to the position of associate vice-presidents.

Strange as it may sound the first time, but perfectly understandable when given a thought,

Kenneth told he was "surprised" after making it to the agency's second anniversary. He quickly clarified that he did not mean to say that the agency was not sure of its survival. "It was more an expression of having actually made that journey, which many skeptics didn't think this company and its people were capable of making, two years ago."

Turning two is reassuring. Reassuring, because the agency has had a difficult history, just as is the case with most of the companies set up in recent times. The biggest of the challenges was how to get the agency rolling in the midst of recession. A time when many rules in the advertising business were rewritten and top agencies were struggling to meet the 'bottomlines'.

St Luke's had a plan and that helped the agency. "Defining a clear purpose and then selling that offer to clients and our people - that was the biggest challenge. It was easy to fool ourselves and take the route of claiming that we want to be the hottest creative agency in India, but the reality is that's every other agency's desired mission statement. We had to be honest in evaluating our strengths as individuals and then define a goal and then maximise our potential to achieve it," Kenneth said.

He, however is mildly critical of the agency's success. "Fair could have been better...should have been better. We have challenging assignments on blue-chip client brands such as ITC, Bombay Dyeing, Godrej, BPCL, to name a few. We have launched a premium television news channel (NDTV) and also launched a premium tea brand. We still need to work harder."

While the agency feels there is, of course, scope for improvement, what's most important is to remain focused. "We want to be the most favoured and preferred communication partner for each of our current clients. This will only help us add on more clients. We work hard as the only communication company that brings in a real difference to our clients marketing armoury. We need to just stay focused on that," says Kenneth, who is by now distracted by phone calls congratulating him.

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