Campaign India Team
Jan 16, 2009

Piyush’s contribution to the WPP bottom-line

How important is it for an individual to become the face of an organization?How much can an organization gain from such a face? How much can it lose?Start with Satyam. If I were asked in KBC, for the 1 crore prize, to name two professionals from Satyam, I would have blown it. The only one that I could have named is Ramalinga Raju. (I could have named Vinod Dham as well, but that wouldn’t have counted).

Piyush’s contribution to the WPP bottom-line

How important is it for an individual to become the face of an organization?

How much can an organization gain from such a face? How much can it lose?

Start with Satyam. If I were asked in KBC, for the 1 crore prize, to name two professionals from Satyam, I would have blown it. The only one that I could have named is Ramalinga Raju. (I could have named Vinod Dham as well, but that wouldn’t have counted).

Raju was, undoubtedly, the face of the organization. To the average Indian with average media consumption  habits and average interest in the stock market, Raju, perhaps, would be the only face one would associate with Satyam.

So when Raju confessed to his Godzilla of a rip-off, all of Satyam got tainted.

Contrast this with O&M. R3’s Agency Image Study measures Piyush Pandey as the most mentioned creative in the business. If one links this with the rating that ‘creativity’ gets in the list of the qualities that clients look for when appointing an agency, the gain to O&M (and to Sir Martin Sorrell) from Piyush’s media profile cannot be anything but significant.

On the other hand, when it comes to the selection of a media agency, it is negotiating and buying skills that are most sought after; ‘people-service’ is near the bottom of the list. A high-profile head of a media agency would, therefore, not help the growth of the agency as much as a high-profile head of a creative one.

Learning from Satyam, it is clear that having more ‘faces’ would have been of great benefit to Satyam when the crisis broke. There would have been people that the media recognized beyond the Raju brothers; people who could have quickly become ‘trusted’ faces.

It is this factor that is pertinent. While Piyush Pandey (and, indeed, Sam Balsara, who is the most mentioned media ‘name’) is very visible, he ensures, and has done so for years now, that others from the agency get their seconds and minutes of fame as well. This  projects the agency has having width and depth of talent and, in a study such as the one done by R3, the agency scores high.

There are a number of agencies that focus their PR efforts on a single individual. In the event of this particular individual leaving, the perception is that the agency is now devoid of talent. The same is true of media houses; exits of high-profile professionals make the organization immediately seem less professional.

No creative or media agency (and I underline the word ‘no’) has a structured PR strategy worth mentioning. Who are the individuals who will be the faces of the organization? Who is authorized to speak on what? Who are those who should be writing columns in newspapers and magazines? Who should be groomed to speak at trade conferences and seminars?

It is a concerted and well thought through effort that will, in time, project the organization as one that is not dependent on a single individual, as one that has a richness of talent and resource, as one that can handle the account that a client is responsible for.

There are many instances of professionals suggesting that being present in the media often is akin to glory-hunting; and, therefore, is something to be looked down upon.

It is, indeed, glory-hunting.

But it is hunting for glory for the organization that you work for, for the brands that you work on, for the colleagues around you.

So each time Piyush’s photograph pops out of the newspaper, or you come across his quote in an article or you see him in a promo for a news TV show, he’s helping O&M – and not himself.

The person who gains the most is Sir Martin Sorrell, probably delighted each time he reads his managers’ names in media reports.
 

Source:
Campaign India

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