Ashwini Gangal

Rediffusion's Sam Ahmed decides to move on

In the days ahead, he will continue to stay in Mumbai and will focus on film directing, his first love.

Just eight months after coming on board as vice-chairman and chief creative officer, Rediffusion-Y&R, Sam Ahmed has decided to call it quits. He has confirmed the news to afaqs!. This was his first stint in the Indian advertising industry.

Rediffusion's Sam Ahmed decides to move on
Ahmed was roped in from Y&R Dubai this January to head both, the creative and business fronts, soon after
, the agency's former national creative director, and later
, the agency's former president, moved on from their respective roles. At the time of Ahmed's appointment, Diwan Arun Nanda, chairman and managing director, Rediffusion, said, "We searched the globe for such creative talent. It is good to have a person of Sam's credentials lead the creative team at Rediffusion."

Ahmed will officially leave the agency this December, after which he will continue to stay in Mumbai. Talking to us about his plan for 2014, he says, "I will get back to film directing for a while; I need to refresh my craft before I forget it." Whether this means he will work as an independent ad film maker or launch his own production house, is unknown.

Ahmed has some experience as far as the latter option goes; in 2007 he started his own studio-cum-production house, Studio Central, and was involved in the creation of filmed entertainment, TV commercials and music videos through a venture called Rockstar Entertainment.

A month after he joined Rediffusion, in an interview with afaqs!, Ahmed spoke candidly about his plans to turn the agency around and bring back its glory days. He said at the time, "I have a plan to make this agency richer by doing great work. And that will make this the fifth agency I'll be turning around, so I know what I'm talking about. I've done it twice with Y&R Dubai, and once each with Wunderman and Intermarkets. By this year-end, Rediffusion will be the George Clooney of Indian advertising. Rediffusion is perceived as a 'has been' agency. He (Rediffusion's Nanda) wants the agency to be recognised as a creative force. His brief to me was: 'Can we make it to the top five?' to which I replied, 'I don't do top five. I only know how to be No. 1.'" Ahmed's bold comments generated both, admiration from his peers in the industry as well as a fair bit of controversy.

But less than a year after joining, Ahmed has put in his papers. "It has been a great opportunity," is all he says about his short stint at the agency, refusing to divulge details about the events that precipitated his decision to quit.

Ahmed, a college drop-out, has been part of the advertising and communications industry since the age of 21. At 28, he was named creative director at Y&R Dubai, an agency he spent 14 years at (1992-2006). Within three years, he was promoted as partner and regional executive creative director of Y&R brands for the region. Later, in 2009, he founded the Creative Club of Dubai.

Ahmed has been a consultant to the Prime Minister and Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed's executive office on several Dubai projects including the Burj Khalifa.

Brands Ahmed has worked on in his career include Ford, Nestle, Pepsi, P&G, Colgate-Palmolive, Citibank, Harvey Nichols, Skoda, Land Rover, Jaguar, Sony Ericsson, Du Telecom, Zain Telecom, HTC, Apple and World Gold Council.

Around a month ago, Ahmed's work on Tata Nano, a Rediffusion account, was in the news; his team gave the brand a makeover and repositioned the Nano as a chic urban car, a far cry from its previous 'affordable car' stance.

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