afaqs! news bureau

Dentsu acquires 51 per cent stake in Taproot India

After being wooed by several suitors for over a year now, Taproot has finally decided to sell 51 per cent of its stake to Japanese advertising giant, Dentsu.

The decision is finally taken. Japanese advertising major Dentsu has acquired 51 per cent stake in Mumbai-based creative agency Taproot India.

For over a year now, the founding members and chief creative officers of Taproot, Agnello Dias (Aggi) and Santosh Padhi (Paddy), have been in conversation with several potential buyers. Finally, as afaqs! learns, the acquiring agency is Dentsu.

Dentsu acquires 51 per cent stake in Taproot India
Around December 2011, answering a hypothetical question pertaining to an international buy-out in an interview with afaqs!, Aggi had said, "Yes, we get almost one offer a month, and eight out of ten times, it is from existing networks. It's an ongoing process and we can never say 'never' to anyone. We meet them and we hear them out. If the terms are equal and suit everybody's needs, we are open to an association with a larger international network. There is no rule that an independent should stay an independent forever; if it can do better as a network, why not? We are open-minded about it; nothing is carved in stone."

Addressing the current development, Aggi now communicates in a press statement, "While we are doing alright on the creative front, we felt that we needed to add a bit more logistical and service capabilities across markets. With Dentsu as our partner we feel we can scale up several areas of our operations very quickly without losing what has been working for us so far."

Taproot India now brings to Dentsu 33 full-time employees and a roster of clients that includes PepsiCo, Airtel, The Times of India, Polycab, Marico, Karbonn Mobiles,, Mumbai Mirror, Nirma, DSP BlackRock Mutual Fund, UTV Bindass, and UTV Stars, among others.

Paddy adds, "We are assured that this alliance will be mutually beneficial to Taproot India and to each one of its employees going forward, without changing our creative offering or the nature of the relationships we share with all our clients."

Taproot India, now a part of the Dentsu Network, will continue to operate independently under the management control of its current leadership. Rohit Ohri, executive chairman, Dentsu India Group, assures that post the acquisition Taproot's everyday operations and management will remain unchanged. "We will ensure that Taproot's independent spirit and fiercely creative culture stays intact. It will just have a lot more firepower added through integrated communication execution capability and an all-India network," he says.

Taproot was launched by Aggi and Paddy in January 2009. Aggi was chief creative officer of JWT India, while Paddy was executive creative director at Leo Burnett, before they quit to set up Taproot India.

Today, the agency, that is a little less than four years old, is respected by its peers and clients for its impressive creative product.

Among the agency's first big account wins was a project for Nirma, followed by Pepsi's World Cup Signature campaign. Later on, Aggi and Paddy went on to create memorable ad campaigns for brands like Airtel ('Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai' and more recently 'Jo Tera Hai Woh Mera') and Mumbai Mirror, the 'I am Mumbai' campaign for which went on to win a gold in the Film Craft category at Cannes earlier this year.

"Aggie and Paddy are globally recognised and celebrated creative talents. We are delighted that they have chosen to partner with Dentsu. This alliance will give a significant fillip to our growth plans for India. Our collective vision is not to be the biggest but to be the best in the industry," Ohri signs off.

It is noteworthy that a few weeks back Dentsu acquired British media buying company Aegis Media in a US$4.9 billion deal.

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