Arati Rao
Oct 22, 2012

Leo Burnett rings in the changes; Pops, Nitesh Tiwari elevated

Q&A with Mark Tutssel, Arvind Sharma and KV Sridhar

L to R: Pops, Mark Tutssel and Nitesh Tiwari
L to R: Pops, Mark Tutssel and Nitesh Tiwari

With its global chief creative officer, Mark Tutssel, in Mumbai for the quarterly Global Product Committee review, Leo Burnett India unveiled its new structure. 

KV Sridhar (Pops) has been made chief creative officer, India Sub-continent. Nitesh Tiwari takes the role of chief creative officer, Leo Burnett India.

Vikram Pandey ('Spiky') is now executive creative director with focus on Tata Capital and HDFC Life. Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari has been elevated to executive creative director and will continue to work on Sony Entertainment Television. Vicky Bhambhani takes on the new role of regional creative director on Tide.

Abhishek Sinha, Nikhil Mehrotra, Piyush Gupta and Shreyas Jain have been made creative directors. Sinha will be working on P&G's Tide and Shiksha. Mehrotra will work on brands including Bajaj Electricals and Complan. Gupta will be creative director on Tata Capital, and Jain will now focus on HDFC Life and Limca.

The agency has also announced new appointments. Timsy Gupta will be creative director on Uninor. She was previously with DDB Mudra Mumbai. Rishi Agarwal (from McCann Erickson Delhi) also joins as creative director on Uninor. Sapna Ahulwalia and Rajneesh Ramakrishnan will be creative directors on McDonald’s.

We asked Tutssel, Arvind Sharma (chairman and chief executive officer, India Sub-continent), and Pops, about the restructure and the work that was reviewed.

Campaign India (CI): What made this an opportune time for the restructure?

Arvind Sharma: From my point of view, (there are) two agendas – continue to grow at twice or thrice the rate of the market, which we’ve done for the past three years. This growth shouldn’t be more of the past. We want it to be qualitative growth which prepares us for the future. For example, this year, 30 per cent of our growth will come from areas outside the traditional areas. That share will grow dramatically. What underlines that growth is huge changes in how we’re creating the work. It isn’t about creating silos, but understanding that brands are going to be built differently. Pops has been a huge champion of it, and now we have the right collection of talent (partly by recruitment, partly by acquisition of Indigo). We now have to bring them together in a fresh way of working. What you’re seeing is a creation of a new-age agency.

KV Sridhar: Successful advertising is made by people who bring in enormous enthusiasm and curiosity. How do you keep that enthusiasm? The environment is also changing so rapidly. From one campaign a year which is course-corrected in year three, to four or five a year nowadays, the learning curve has changed. The age of consumers and brand managers has come down. Ambition has changed, technology has changed and the way we communicate has changed. An agency needs to imbibe all these changes, and lead it. We’re living in a ‘live’ world. The people who are living that life need to be empowered to talk to the young audience. There are two things we’ve done very clearly – we’ve empowered the younger generation and we’ve reduced the portfolio of brands they handle so they can partner with the client and tell the story across channels.

Campaign India: Your thoughts on the new structure…

Mark Tutssel: Lots of excitement, infinite possibility and great momentum. I think Arvind and Pops have been great ambassadors of new world thinking. We’ve laid the template for a new generation and the next chapter of the Leo Burnett India story. This will demand of us to produce communication and content that is very different, that connects to people in a fresh, new way, and leverages technology. The first instance of that is the branded content and entertainment work we’re doing for Coke Studio and Sony. I think we’ll become a magnet for young talent. It’s a people company, with a strong, united team that has a clear destination. In Nitesh, we have an incredibly talented creative leader who is hugely respected in the industry, and more importantly, within the four walls of the agency. He’s somebody who will take the agency to the next level.

Campaign India: What would be focus areas now?

Arvind Sharma: To me, a symbol of us becoming a new-age agency, would be a Titanium Lion, Lions in branded content and entertainment, mobile and innovation of media.

Mark Tutssel: And the result of all of this will be a Lion in Creative Effectiveness. 

Arvind Sharma: Also, tapping into the opportunity that people’s participation offers in the most innovative and involving way. That’s where the mega multiplier for brands lies.

Campaign India: Tell us about the annual review here.

Mark Tutssel: India is a huge market for us and vitally important to the company, and more so to our clients. It’s a hotbed of creativity and one of our most creative agencies in the network. I spend a lot of time here to focus primarily on the 100 per cent quality of the product, the thinking and the work. We’ve been reviewing the work brand by brand and team by team for the past two to three days, discussing the merits of the work, about making the product better, talking about where the agency is going and where the brand will be ten years from now. Of course, change is vital to keep pace with the way the world of communication is changing. We discussed a new system and way of working.

A to-be-released campaign for Coke Studio stood out, and some really lovely stuff from P&G. Sony Entertainment Television was breakthrough as well.

Campaign India: What are some of the tips you gave during the review?

Mark Tutssel: Everything begins and ends with thinking. So strategic thinking, that’s rooted in behaviour rather than product delivery (is key). I believe everything boils down to people and behaviour and we use creativity to change behaviour. I’m always looking for communication that is high-purpose and that can be activated in a million and one ways. Activation ideas are the order of the day, and the greater the participation of the audience, the greater the effect of the campaign in the marketplace. Also, craft is everything. Beauty, design, typography, cinematography and editing all have to be exquisite. There is no excuse for bad craft. I’m also looking for surprise – work that changes the conversation, that uses technology in a new way.


Campaign India