Type of agency: Advertising
Company ownership: Omnicom
Key personnel: Shiv Sethuraman, CEO, Rahul Sengupta, national creative director,
Accounts won: Visa, Playstation, Planet M, Polaris, Dabur
Accounts lost: Platinum, High Street Phoenix, Pantaloon Retail, Shapoorji Pallonji
Rumours and reports at the beginning of the year suggested that the Indian partners, K George John, N Krishnan and Kurien Mathews were selling their holding in the agency. April saw this being confirmed by Keith Smith, who also announced the new CEO for India, Shiv Sethuraman, who officially joined in the middle of June. TBWA’s unusual decision resulting in John and Mathews being able to exit as soon as the share transfer was completed did not help in ensuring continuity.
Sethuraman took charge while the Indian partners were still physically present in the office, considerably cramping his operational independence. Resultant: a number of senior staffers resigning during the year; some, whose departures Sethuraman would be happy with and some, not. TBWA’s Disruption expert, Narayan Kumar, the nationally creative director, Probir Dutt are notable among the leavers during the year.The last quarter saw TBWA lose its hold on two of their largest revenue earners: Bajaj Allianz (which TBWA now shares with M&C Saatchi) and Platinum (which they have just lost).
On the flip side, Sethuraman’s appointment of Rahul Sengupta as NCD and the global realignment of the Visa account have been boosts for the agency as the year draws to a close.
Sethuraman is now in the process of building a team virtually from scratch and focusing on growing the Tequila business with a far greater urgency than George John had seen fit.
TBWA, ten years old in India, is in the unusual position for an agency of that age; frenetic recruitment and pitching for new business is the mantra for Sethuraman, when, ideally, he should have been consolidating and growing the business. In what must be a good augury, Visa billings begin in Q1 2009, but Sethuraman has to stabilise the ship, bed down his new team, and hope too that some small, encouraging wins such as Playstation and Polaris turn into something more substantial.
Campaign Score: 5
How TBWA rates itself: 8
2008 has been a huge year for TBWA\ India - the departure of the founder owners after 20 years, the arrival of a new CEO and the first ever NCD. Through all this upheaval, we have been winning new business - Playstation, Planet M, Polaris, Dabur, Visa, Polaris and many others have walked in through the front door. More importantly, the agency morale is great!
At the end of 2009, our team is complete and we are raring to go. Next year will be the year where our work gets talked about and we begin to be seen as a real challenger to the big boys!