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Meet the monk who started his own creative agency...

After spending almost three decades in Indian advertising, Manan has started his own ad agency – Mystic Monk.

Most people wait until retirement to start their own outfit, but Anil Manan decided to do things a little differently. Manan is an Indian advertising veteran with nearly three decades of experience to speak of. He has worked with J. Walter Thompson, FCB Ulka in Delhi and McCann for 26 years before taking the plunge and quitting his job to start his own company. From adman to CEO, Manan says “I’ve completed 36 years in the industry. I’m basically a creative guy with a business sense. I’ve been toying with this idea for a while… I wanted to start an agency before I retire. Normally, people wait until they retire to start their own shop, but I didn’t want to do that. When I completed 26 years, that’s when I took the leap, quit my job and started the company,” he says.

Anil Manan
Anil Manan

He mentions that when he decided to move on from the company, his team, who had been working under him for a long period of time, also decided to follow him. “When they expressed this to me, I warned them that McCann was a good place to work and that I’m trying this agency out on an experimental basis – but the team was keen on working with me, so here we are,” says Manan.

He emphasises that the agency offers a variety of creative services and doesn’t work with clients in the same way that agency partners normally would. “From the beginning, I have had the habit of working in a hands-on way and I not only get involved with the creative idea, but also understand what the client’s requirements are and how they want to drive their product in the market. That way, we’re not just sitting in our glass cabin, we’re getting our hands dirty and working for the client’s client – the consumer.”

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He adds that irrespective of whether the client is in the B2B or B2C category, the agency will attempt to service their needs. “We don’t want to call ourselves a full-service agency or a boutique agency – both these categories normally have their own style of functioning. We are a creative agency in the sense that we provide specialised services for any sort of creative requirement that a client may have, even if it’s for interior design – as long as it’s a creative requirement. Whether it’s for photography, an ad, packaging design, social media, or even interior design,” he says.

When quizzed on his learnings from the ad world that would help him with his new stint as CEO, he pauses to think for a minute. “There are 3 Cs – creative, communication for consumers and clients,” he says. He adds that as long as the work is grounded in the client’s needs and requirements, communication will work just fine. “Clients these days have become new age - they’re well informed about what’s happening in the market, and so we need to keep up too,” he signs off.

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