The world’s second-largest advertising group Omnicom has put in place a blueprint intended to galvanise its operations in India, a key market after China and Indonesia in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, following its failure to merge with the world’s third-largest ad group Publicis, in May.
Omnicom-owned DDB Mudra will be at the forefront of this effort, with the agency, whose revenues are estimated to be in the region of Rs 200 crore, tasked with doubling business in three years, according to John Zeigler, chairman & CEO, DDB Group Asia Pacific, India & Japan.
Zeigler, who is credited with making DDB Worldwide one of the most successful agency networks in the APAC region, was in India last week to take stock of operations here. This visit comes three months after the exit of Pratap Bose, DDB Mudra’s COO, who quit following a four-year extension given to Madhukar Kamath, the agency's group CEO & MD.
In a conversation with Business Standard, Zeigler said, “If DDB Worldwide in the last five years has doubled its business twice in the APAC region, I don't see why India can't do it once in the next three. I have no reservations about expecting it."
DDB Mudra, he says, has risen to the challenge by inducting five new members into its executive board, who will work closely with existing members Kamath, Sonal Dabral, chairman & chief creative officer, and Anurag Bansal, group CFO, to achieve this objective.
“What Madhukar is doing is building a senior management layer that will take the burden of that growth and make it happen,” he said.
The new members include vertical heads Deepak Nair, COO of digital agency 22feet Tribal, Mandeep Malhotra, president, DDB MudraMax - out-of-home, retail & experential, Sathyamurthy Namakkal, president, DDB MudraMax - media, Rajiv Sabnis, president, DDB Mudra West and Aneil Deepak, head of ideas, DDB MudraMax.
The agency has also set up two councils, one for creative, the other, for strategic planning, members of which will meet regularly to discuss and promote good work. While regional and global creative councils are common among most ad networks, this is the first time that an agency has attempted to replicate this model at the local level. The setting up of a strategic planning council, on the other hand, explains Zeigler, is intended to harness the abilities of this department, considered the nerve centre of an ad agency, at the group level, to deliver solutions based on strong consumer insights. This council will include Aditya Kanthy and Amit Kekre, both national strategic planning heads at DDB Mudra Group, Pradeep Ramakrishnan, head, strategy & insights, TracyLocke India (into shopper marketing) and Ramraaj Raghunathan, business development, 22feet Tribal.
The creative council will comprise Brijesh Jacob, joint MD, 22feet Tribal, Rahul Mathew, creative head, DDB Mudra West, Sambit Mohanty, creative head, DDB Mudra North, Vipul Thakkar, creative head, DDB Mudra South & East besides Deepak of DDB MudraMax.
Besides the organisational restructuring, DDB Mudra will also scout for acquisitions aggressively in an endeavour to achieve the target set by Zeigler. “We are being very aggressive at looking at growth opportunities (in India). Omnicom is very particular about this. It is very hard to get growth in markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong, where we are already the strongest agency there. Vietnam is growing quickly, but it is a much smaller market in sophistication and talent. I see in India, China and Indonesia access to talent, need from business for support and a maturity in these markets that will allow us to grow quickly,” Zeigler added.