Nisha Qureshi

Never confuse technology with thinking and insight: Omnicom Advertising Services’ Aditya Kanthy on AI

Kanthy speaks about the need for OAS, goals for 2024 and the challenges of adapting to new technologies in the advertising industry.

In a significant development of the advertising world, Aditya Kanthy the CEO of DDB Mudra Group was named as chief executive officer of the newly formed Omnicom Advertising Services (OAS) in India. The new entity brings the power of integrated solutions from the Omnicom family across the consumer journey to clients.

afaqs! interviewed Aditya Kanthy to gain a deeper understanding of the new entity.

OAS seeks to unite three leading creative agency networks—BBDO India, TBWA India, and DDB Mudra Group—within Omnicom in India. This bridges the agencies specialised talents with the broader capabilities of the Omnicom India Group, says Kanthy.

Kanthy clarifies that what OAS represents is not a typical merger but rather a new structure that enables collaborations tailored to client needs. “OAS is fundamentally about creating an organising entity around three world-class creative agency networks. This brings the best of Omnicom media group and the 6000 people we have on-ground."

 The underlying principle is that as the marketing ecosystem becomes more and more fragmented, the need for specialisation becomes deeper.

Goals for 2024

Kanthy mentions that while they are finalising the structure details, TBWA, BBDO, and DDB continue to be important stakeholders in the success of OAS.

You've got the leadership of the individual agency networks and the leadership of the other Omnicom group entities that are together excited and clear about what we have to do for Omnicom in its entirety

He emphasises the forward-facing nature of the entity, noting Omnicom's historical success in creating these large and successful global creative networks.

“That is because there is a belief in the power of specific individual agencies being able to do the deep work that is required to be good at a particular thing. We're doubling down on that belief. The belief is that the future belongs to agencies that have deep expertise. We believe as Omnicom that the way to get there is by preserving, protecting and nurturing those expert capabilities across individual agency brands through the whole spectrum,” he adds.

Kanthy underscores the importance of finding ways to offer clients a fuller view without undermining the individual specialisation. “That balance between deep specialisation and a full picture is what the relationship between the holding group and individual agencies is all about.”

I want to be very clear about how this is a future-facing, proactive, progressive structure. In line with world-class, successful well-run agencies who have decades of legacy.

According to Kanthy, he, along with Kartik Sharma, group CEO of OMG (Omnicom Media Group) India, will also focus on what this will mean for the advertising talent who will have greater exposure, learning and opportunities across the Group.

He expressed the ambition to house between 10 - 15000 jobs over the next three to five years out of India to drive solutions across the spectrum in India and the international markets.

On the international recognition of Indian advertising talent

Kanthy is of the view that while there has been immense progress at an industry level in terms of creativity, there is still room for more craft in the work. “I still find that some other cultures, some other marketing client-agency relationships are a little bit ahead of us in the belief and the investment in craft the time and the money that is required to do truly world-class work.”

The access to technology at scale, the amount of change that we've seen, and how millions of people are interacting with brands, making decisions, make our market a very interesting laboratory for creativity.

Emphasising the need to prioritise quality over quantity, he says at times one must just slow down and let things flow organically.

“There is a little bit of a tendency here to rush from one thing to another and to produce more just because we can. There's a lot of evidence to suggest that sometimes you have to relax,” he states.

Kanthy further spoke about the ongoing debate about in-house agencies vs creative agencies. He acknowledged that while positive outcomes have emerged from in-house agency setups, the creative advertising industry continues to thrive despite the increased prevalence of in-house agency work.

“It's a reality that I think we are happy to embrace. Each client has their own path, I think we should also pay attention to what is guiding that path; the need for edgier and deeper work."

Our ability as an industry to be able to offer clients a cross-category perspective, a perspective that is objective, draws on culture and draws on the wider world of art and craft, makes that work stronger.

Importance of human insight with the advent of technology

Kanthy asserts that just like all the technological advancements in the past, the ad industry will learn to steer the wheel with AI. As new technologies emerge, presenting challenges in diverse ways, fostering a culture of robust curiosity is essential for effectively introducing and embracing them. That will be the only way to learn.

“However, the trick is to never confuse technology with thinking, with insight. As human beings, our instincts have been honed over millennia and centuries of conditioning. Thinking is a fundamental human core. Therefore, the power of insight, the power of storytelling, and the power of the idea are central to our success. One mustn't ever put the cart before the horse.”

Some of the most effective work in the AI space has been effective because it’s happened within the framework of a consistent brand idea.
Have news to share? Write to us