Percept completed 25 years sometime last week. That’s a lot of years.
The agency has had a charmed life, with ups and downs, but always bouncing back from the downs.
Percept, along with AdFactors, Clea, Concept, Pressman and the like, has done a lot more in helping their customers than many of you would remember. In the first flush of the reforms in India, these were the agencies in the midst of creating brands that would attract the retail investor on the stockmarket.
While most of these worthies made ‘corporate’ ads, Percept went a few miles further. They ensured that their clients understood the benefits of sponsorship, the RoI on the use of celebrities, the advantages of using niche channels and the like.
Surprisingly, they were about the first agencies that I can think of which managed conflict – by demonstrating category expertise.
So they handled – if one remembers right – Bagpiper and McDowell at the same time. Castrol was once their client thanks to Percept’s understanding of sports sponsorships – as was MRF. Godrej gained from their understanding of the use of celebrities in the case of Cinthol.
But the biggest gainers were those companies which made a fortune on the stock market. Many of them are unheard of today. But Percept’s got nothing to do with their current status.
Their task, at that time, was to build a brand quickly so that the promoters could go to the stockmarket with an IPO and command large premiums.
That’s a task they achieved with The House of Kedia’s, with Bhopal Sugar Industries, with Som Distilleries, with MESCO, with Western India Erectors.
These clients sponsored shows on the fledgling Channel [V], on STAR Plus, on Prime Sports in their effort to milk the stock market. Which all of them did. Perhaps all this thinking was a pointer to the direction that Percept would take; diversifying into PR, event management, talent management, films. The list goes on.
Percept has lost on some of their ventures, gained on some.
In the last few years, one senses a calmer, more mature Percept – which is now 25 years old. But the entrepreneurial blood in the Singh brothers will remain that. Which is why, in whatever form we see Percept, we will see the organization exist 25 years from now; and they will get involved in areas ahead of their time, and they will win some and lose some. And you won't be able to keep them down.