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Indian advertising's musical chairs in 2009

The year that went by was bubbling with account and people movements in the ad fraternity, interestingly with many new outfits coming into existence. afaqs! explores

2009 was a year packed with the usual tussle for accounts amongst creative agencies, people switching jobs and yes, most certainly, many taking bold steps to venture out beyond the shadow of the large agencies on their own, despite the slowdown. afaqs! runs through some of the significant stirrers of the ad business during this period.

The year began with a jolt, with several individual outfits being set up by people who stepped out from large agencies to explore the tide on their own: the Aggie-Paddy venture, TapRoot India; Mudra's Jagdish Acharya forming Cut The Crap; 22 Feet by Brijesh Jacob (ex-Grey and Lowe); Leo Burnett's Sukumar Menon putting together Black Swan Life; and Narayan Kumar's Metal.

Indian advertising's musical chairs in 2009
Indian advertising's musical chairs in 2009
For starters, Ogilvy was high on the people movement front - Loveleen Raina and Titus Upputuru from the Delhi branch moved on to join Leo Burnett and Dentsu Communications, respectively. Raina, who was instrumental in heading the Motorola business at Ogilvy for quite some time, took up the new role of heading the Uninor business at Leo Burnett.

It was homecoming for JC Giri at Ogilvy, who returned to the agency after a stint at STAR TV India, as regional director on the Unilever business. Abhijit Avasthi and Rajiv Rao took on the reins as national creative directors from Piyush Pandey. The agency grabbed the Dabur Vatika Hair Oil business, as well as the Religare Enterprises and VLCC accounts.

David, the presumably dormant third agency from the Ogilvy stable, saw a resurrection in 2009 with the win of the Dabur Total Protect account. Ogilvy's second agency, Meridian, apart from winning the Honda Jazz business, lost Axis Bank to Lowe.

JWT had a couple of wins with UNICEF Red Ribbon Express, SET Max, Whyte & Mackay, Thomas Cook, and sharing SBI General Insurance with Interpub. Apart from losing Apollo Tyres to Capital Advertising, on the people front, it lost Shavon Barua to Euro RSCG.

The automobile sector was also busy last year - Maruti Splash was awarded to Dentsu Creative Impact, Meridian won the duties for the most expensive premium hatchback witnessed by India in the year - the Honda Jazz; Tata Nano went to Rediffusion Y&R; Volvo Cars came trotting to Pickle Advertising; Toyota Motors shifted its SUV/MUV business from Dentsu to Percept/H. GM had a re-shuffle of its agencies, with roster agency McCann Erickson going off its radar, followed by Leo Burnett, too, with an expiration of contracts - Wieden+Kennedy and Publicis India becoming the new custodians for the slew of brands.

Indian advertising's musical chairs in 2009
Rediffusion Y&R won Danone India, HDFC Home Loans and Marico's Sweekar and Revive. Ramanuj Shastry, co-chief creative officer (CCO), put in his papers to move to Saatchi & Saatchi as national creative director. In the same breath, Minakshi Achan, executive vice-president and executive creative director for Rediff's south operations, was promoted to step into the shoes of Shastry. Amitesh Rao re-located to take charge of the Sri Lankan operations of the agency as chief operating officer.
Indian advertising's musical chairs in 2009
The Mudra group made noise with some major restructuring and the creation of four verticals. Mudra Communications won Jockey, Moov and Lonely Planet magazine, apart from winning the creative duties for the magazines of Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd - Femina and Filmfare.

Volkswagen drove its way into DDB Mudra, while Rajeev Raja climbed the ladder as national creative director at the agency. Rajiv Sabnis joined as president for the Indian operations at DDB Mudra from M&C Saatchi, where he was executive director. Suranjan Das from Fortune Communications replaced Sabnis at M&C Saatchi.

McCann Worldgroup set up its second agency - T.A.G. - in India last year. The agency opened with twin wins from the Videocon Group - the consumer durables business and Datacom, the telecom brand which is yet to witness a launch. Dish TV also fell in its lap. Himanshu Saxena, group business director at McCann, took on the national role for T.A.G., looking after the Delhi and Mumbai offices.

Being one of the roster agencies for the Tata Group for quite some time, and with the list of telecom players in the country seeing an increment during the year, Draft FCB Ulka added the Tata GSM business to its kitty. While Sanjay Tandon joined the agency from JWT to head the account, the agency lost its planning head for the Delhi operations, Pinaki Bhattacharya, to Saatchi & Saatchi; Bhattacharya joined Saatchi & Saatchi as senior vice-president, planning, for the Delhi and Bengaluru offices.

Bates 141 won Max Bupa and the new personal care range of Dabur - Dabur Uveda. Russell Barrett joined as executive creative director at the agency, while Rohit Malkani moved on to join Grey as executive creative director.

Euro RSCG saw the stepping in of Shavon Barua from JWT as director for the Mumbai office, while the agency lost out on the Voltas account to Capital Advertising.

Indian advertising's musical chairs in 2009
Saatchi & Saatchi had Nandu Narasimhan quitting as national creative director and Sanjib Dey being promoted from executive vice-president to president of the agency. It bagged the Maxima watches business from Equus Red Cell.

Contract Advertising won the Samsonite India (American Tourister and Samsonite) and Set Wet accounts. It lost the Dabur Vatika business that it had the custody of for quite some time - the duties for the hair oil went to Ogilvy and the shampoos business went to Pickle Advertising. The agency also had a new planning head for the Mumbai office in Anand Damani, who came in from Saatchi & Saatchi.

Aviva Life Insurance and Wrigley's Doublemint were the two accounts that BBDO won during the year. Ranjeev Vij quit the agency as head on the HP business for a role as board director at iris. Publicis Dialog/Modem, too, lost Param Saikia to iris - he joined the latter as chief executive officer. Everest Brand Solutions won the Virgin Atlantic account.

Indian advertising's musical chairs in 2009
People movements at TBWA India had N Krishnan, shareholder, chief operating officer (COO) and chief financial officer (CFO) stepping down, and Niraj Dadoo replacing him as COO and CFO. While Madan Mohan quit as COO, West, Nirmalya Sen, COO, North was promoted as managing director. The agency won the Nissan Motors account through a global alignment. Meow FM and Mail Today were added to the list. It also made entry into the well-guarded Maruti fort by winning the creative duties for its genuine accessories business - Maruti Genuine Accessories (MGA).

Grey roped in Bindu Sethi as national planning head from Unilever, while Jishnu Sen, branch head, was promoted as COO.

BBH was able to wriggle into the TVS roster, winning the creative duties for TVS Wego. It also won the creative duties for Diageo's VAT 69 from Publicis Ambience and the slew of brands from Marico's umbrella - Mediker, Nihar Naturals, Parachute Advansed Starz, Parachute Advansed After Shower and Parachute Therapie Hair Fall Solution.

Capital Advertising made a dual grab at accounts - Apollo Tyres and Voltas - which more than made up for the loss of the Mail Today account.

Apart from the Volvo Car business, Pickle Advertising also picked up a chunk of business from the Dabur group - Henna Cream Conditioning and Root Strengthening shampoos.

Indian advertising's musical chairs in 2009
Triton lost businesses - three Paras Pharmaceuticals brands - Set Wet, Moov and RingGuard. Dentsu Communications lost the Yamaha business to ADK Fortune. Interpub won Universal Sompo and SBI General Insurance, which it is to share with JWT.

With the fanfare about Harley-Davidson stepping into India, the creative duties for the same were entrusted with The Republic, which played an instrumental role in launching the brand and its communication in the country.

In all, '09 definitely wasn't slow on action. Treading into a new year, expect nothing less from the ad world.

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