N. Shatrujeet

HTA to become JWT India; changes Mumbai address too

HTA has shifted its headquarters from the historic Lakshmi Building in Fort, Mumbai, to Lower Parel. The agency is also undergoing a change in its name – to JWT India

After a full 63 years, office stationery at India's biggest advertising agency's Mumbai office will bear a new address - one that won't have the words ‘Lakshmi Building' in it. For HTA has shifted its office premises from the heart of Fort, Mumbai, to Peninsula Chambers in Lower Parel. The new premises was officially inaugurated late yesterday evening, with Peter Schweitzer, president and CEO, J Walter Thompson, doing the honours.

Incidentally, a change in address is not the only change that will be reflected in the office stationery hereafter. The agency is also undergoing a change in its nomenclature - from Hindustan Thompson Associates (HTA) to JWT India. An official announcement to this effect is expected later today. There will be no changes in management or operation and Mike Khanna will continue as chief executive.

Full circle, really. For the agency that we know today as HTA was actually JWT till 1970. That year, the agency re-christened itself as Hindustan Thompson Associates, following a Government of India order that denied any fully-owned agency access to public sector accounts. Incidentally more than 20 per cent of HTA's business that time came from the public sector. The change from JWT to HTA had coincided with a transfer of a part of the equity to Indian shareholders.

However, with the trend being reversed post-liberalization, J. Walter Thompson has steadily been increasing its stake in the agency, and currently, Sir Martin Sorrel-owned WPP Holdings owns 74 per cent of HTA. The change in the agency's nomenclature to JWT India is a natural corollary. However, Hindustan Thompson Private Limited continues to be the holding company and the registered entity - the change has more to do with the brand name than anything else.

On its turn, the shift of the Mumbai office will bring to an end the agency's long association with the historic Lakshmi Building, which was built by the Lakshmi Insurance Company of Lahore (whose founders included Pt. Motilal Nehru, Lala Lajpat Rai and Pt. Santanam) and inaugurated by Sgt. Subhas Chandra Bose. It was in the year 1939 that JWT first moved into Lakshmi Building from Ballard Estate. (For the trivia buff, the agency had started its India operation from a single room at the Taj Mahal Hotel, back in 1930.) Since then, HTA, Mumbai, has been almost synonymous with the building, easily recognized by the statue of goddess Lakshmi gracing its roof.

Going by last evening's function in Mumbai to announce the change of address, these changes are quite symbolic, at least to the agency's consciousness. For the evening saw the agency unveil a ‘change' anthem titled ‘Thompson Zamaana', which celebrated the agency's numero uno status in Indian advertising (through cleverly drawn associations to Bollywood's badshah, Amitabh Bachchan), and reiterated the resolve to outdo itself.

Judging by the mood, the agency is very upbeat about all the changes. Cheers to that! © 2002 agencyfaqs!