“This industry is a momentum game. It’s amazing how you can fall off… (sic),” said Troy Ruhanen, president and CEO, TBWA\Worldwide, on his maiden visit to India.
He was addressing a media roundtable on 25 January 2016, ahead of a global creative meet the agency is currently hosting in Mumbai.
Flanked by Philip Brett, president of TBWA\Asia; Govind Pandey, who took over as CEO of TBWA\India less than a month ago; Parixit Bharracharya, CCO, India; and Aejaz Khan, ED, India, Ruhanen, who took over the leadership in mid-2014, underlined the importance of the Indian market for the Omnicom network agency.
‘The fast eating the slow’
“It’s not about the big eating small; it’s about the fast eating the slow. How do we work at the speed of culture?” explained Ruhanen, pointing to 16 pitches the agency has won on the back of its ‘Disruption’ DNA in the last 14 months.
This list includes Singapore Tourism (in some markets), GoDaddy, Airbnb and Netflix. The global CEO underlined that most of these were won without showing creative work, and added, “Clients are very interested in a different way of working.”
Ruhanen pointed out that the agency is learning from the business models of Silicon Valley disruptors like Airbnb, and said, “It helps reinvent the ‘Disruption’ agency culture.”
‘In a year, we’ll have a better story to tell’
Pandey announced the appointment of Subramanian Krishnan as chief strategy officer, adding that the agency has also made a few hires in digital. Krishnan returns to India after eight years, moving from Geometry Malaysia.
The Indian operations have gone through several changes in the last few years (see links below).
Asked about the delay in appointing a CEO, Brett said, “It’s no secret that we didn’t have the leadership we wanted. We went without one for a while. India didn’t quite get the network chemistry behind it. With Troy coming in, we set that right. India has been very involved in pitches for Twitter, Go Daddy. Hopefully, in a year, we’ll have a better story to tell.”
Ruhanen added, “India is critical – it’s important that it adds to the reputation of the ‘Disruption Company’.”
‘Work with a fresh voice’
Pandey stated that while existing clients remain a priority, the growth strategy would include chasing large clients with established agency relationships.
He said, “The largest clients are looking at that one big idea from anywhere. I see an opportunity in that.”
On targets for the Indian market, Ruhanen said, “There’s too much talk about numbers. I believe it’s about the quality of work… that’s the top priority. We need to become the best place for talent in the market, become a talent magnet. And then, we need to be able to show some signature pieces of work with a fresh voice. There is a place to show that there is another kind of work.”