It ws during a conversation with Campaign India a couple of months ago, when Ogilvy's global chief John Seifert dropped a broad hint.
When asked a question about talent, the discussion veered towards why Indian ad executives were not moving on to lead global agency networks. This was a glaring omission when there were people of Indian origin leading large corporations from consumer goods to technology. Seifert's response was that the failure was not in the talent of the people of Indian origin, but in the ability of the advertising business to identify and promote Indian talent right to the top. On behalf of the advertising industry, Seifert seems to have made that course correction.
Last evening (India time), Campaign broke the news globally that Piyush Pandey, executive chairman, Ogilvy India and the creative lead for South Asia had been chosen to replace Tham Khai Meng as the global CCO of Ogilvy, becoming the first Indian to head the creative function of a large global agency network.
The elevation of Pandey, who was recently awarded the prestigious Lion of St Mark for outstanding contribution to creativity in communication at Cannes this year, is a clear signal about the growing importance of India, in Ogilvy's scheme of things.
India is Ogilvy's fifth largest market in the world and it could well be the fourth, or third largest, in the next 24 to 36 months. In contrast, in Ogilvy's number one market, the US, the share as a percentage of the whole is declining due to fragmentation, conflicts and other issues. These factors in combination could make the US a lot more challenging market, admits Seifert.
However, in India, the agency's portfolio is a mix of the admired global brands and India’s most successful local brands. Plus, there is the wave of entrepreneurial companies that were not even invented 2-3 years ago, who are large spenders in advertising.
As Seifert pointed out, India is a beacon market for the global transformation of the agency. What probably clinched the deal for Pandey was the perception of how the agency works in India. According to Seifert, India's entrepreneurial, it’s a market that believes and cares about brands and it’s a market that wants to learn.
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Rao is currently CEO of dentsuMB Group India