Ask anyone at Mindshare and GroupM and you’re met with stony silence. Don’t even bother asking Unilever.
The outcome was so certain that I jumped the gun and wrote an editorial about it about a month ago, putting my money where my mouth was.
How was I so sure? Elementary, my dear Watson. I looked around for clues. Actually, I looked for just the one clue.
Who was hiring?
The answer to that would be revealing.
If the India account had to move away from Mindshare, someone had to be on a massive people hunt.
And no one was. I checked with headhunters, I checked with friends in the agencies in contention and no one was even close to looking, let alone hiring.
There is no way an account as big as the Unilever account could be handled by any agency other than Mindshare without a massive recruitment exercise.
An exercise that could not be completed in a matter of days and weeks; it would take months. And if the recruitment process had not even begun, it meant that Mindshare had retained the business.
Unilever knew the business would go to Mindshare. Mindshare knew the business would be retained. Competing agencies knew that they had lost the India business. Hey, even we, the lowly trade media, knew that Mindshare was home and dry.
And yet, as at the time I write this blog (bravely, as my colleagues at sister title Media in Hong Kong have filed a story despite no official comment forthcoming), what we still hear is pin-drop silence.
While one can understand the need for silence, silence has a down side.
In the absence of an official comment, rumours abound. There were many without access to ‘quality’ gossip who spoke of OMD, perhaps, winning the business in India (as part of a South Asia mandate). There would have been insecurity and uncertainty in Mindshare India, in OMD India, perhaps even at Unilever India.
While one can surely understand that nothing can be announced till final decisions are taken, one wishes that there was one certainty – the date of the announcement.
I can remember going through sheer hell when my son had written his IIT entrance exam (which he didn’t get through) and the AIEEE (which he got through) and when my daughter had applied to NID (where she didn’t make the grade) and NID again (where she made the grade the second time around).
I can only imagine what my children went through.
I wish we had a clear date on which the results would be announced.
As I’m certain all those who pitched for the Unilever business, even those who lost the pitch, must be wishing.
And I’m relieved, as I’m sure all those in the fray for the Unilever business must be, that we will see this exercise only three years later.
S**t, that’s wrong, it’s sooner than that.
Thanks to the process, we’ve already lost a month and a half of those three years.