The Mudra Group, which had its beginnings with one office in 1980, and one brand as a client- Vimal, today employs close to 1100 people across 26 offices, to handle a portfolio of more than a 100 brands. With a number of specialist units having been launched in the last one year, Madhukar Kamath, MD and CEO, Mudra Group says the idea was to build one of the country’s largest integrated marketing communcations group with specialist units, each of which could stand independently on its own feet in terms of business objectives.
Elaborating on the vision behind launching the various specialist units, Kamath recalls, “When we set about the business of mapping out how to move forward, we went about attempting to define the business that we were in, which was the business of building brands and providing creative business solutions. The conventional belief, until a few years ago, was that brands were built on TV. As time passed, we realised that there was an opportunity to build brands everdyday at each and every consumer touchpoint. Today, examples abound of brands that have been built purely on, say, experiential advertising, out of home advertising, word of mouth marketing, or even sponsorships. We decided that we would take every consumer touchpoint, and ensure that we are present there in terms of building the business. At the onset, we decided that we would have two fundamental questions to answer for any unit that we started; one, whether it can by itself be best in class in its category and the second whether it was scalable. As a result we started investing in building businesses in each of these consumer touch points.”
“What we would ideally like is for clients to come to us, not with a brief, but to say, ‘here is our marketing problem, now solve it’,” adds Kamath.
The group integrated all of its specialist units under the Mudra Max umbrella in May this year. Speaking to Campaign India, at the time, Pratap Bose, CEO, Mudra Max and COO, Mudra Group had singled out scale as the biggest advantage of such an integrated offering for clients. The next step according to Bose is for the group to identify, for each of these units, a best in class partner.
That process is already underway, with the recent announcements of a JV with Clear Channel in the out of home segment and with UK based retail design specialist Portland, with Portland Mudra. Other announcements are likely to be made soon.
Mudra Group consists of four separate arms. (See box above)
There is the core advertising business under Mudra Communications. This consists of Mudra, the advertising agency; Water, the strategy and design consultancy; Maatra, the localisation and pre-media services and Tantr Films, a content creation unit. The second segment is housed under the DDB Mudra segment. This consists of Tribal DDB, which is the Interactive and new media agency; Rapp, the relationship marketing unit; Mudra Health & Lifestyle, the health and lifestyle marketing arm, which is soon to be integrated under the DDB Mudra side of the agency.
Mudra MAX is the third segment under the Mudra Group umbrella, that houses the media buying and various specialist units. MAX, therefore, houses Connext and Radar, the two media buying units. The various specialist units here include those housed under Prime Group, which includes Prime Site (out of home solutions); Prime Retail (retail design and visual merchandising); Prime Wayfinding (navigation solutions); Prime Consult (outdoor environment consulting) and Prime Green (solar enabled media).
Then there is Kidstuff, the promotional marketing unit, Street Smart, the interactive out-of-home solutions arm; Multiplier, the specialised trade marketing unit; Terra, the specialised rural marketing unit; Videotec (the branded entertainment arm); 10 Integrated, the sports marketing unit; Celcius, the events marketing unit and Portland. Mudra, the recent JV between UK based retail design firm Portland and Mudra in the area of experiential and retail design. There is also the recently launched Clear Channel Mudra LLP, which is an out of home specialist unit.
The fourth part of the Mudra Group is Ignite Mudra, the recently launched agency that specialises in catering to Indian entrepreneurs, the small and medium businesses in areas of brand building and marketing. Ignite Mudra is based in Ahmedabad.
On the business side, while Jude Fernandes, executive director, Mudra Group and CEO, Mudra Advertising heads Mudra Communications; Sandeep Vij, executive director and chief knowledge officer, Mudra Group and CEO, DDB India Group heads the DDB Mudra Group part of the business and Pratap Bose heads Mudra Max as CEO, besides being COO, Mudra Group. Chandan Nath is president and head, Ignite Mudra.
While ‘product’ is headed by Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, Mudra Group, the people function is headed by Ajit Menon who is president, organisational development within the Mudra group. Dilip Upadhayaya is the chief financial officer. That, in essence, sums up the way that the agency has been structured.
So how does the all important ‘I’ word- Integration fit into this complex structure? Explains Kamath, “We spend a lot of time on integration, it’s driven down from the top. We have an executive board which has three of the CEOs; Bobby as the CCO, me, then there are the support functions in the form of HR and finance. We always try to meet once every fifteen days, failing that we definitely meet once a month, where we discuss integration issues, the great things that have taken place in the last fortnight, what we can look forward to going forward and future opportunities.”
Elaborating further, he adds, “The point is that we drive it down. So when Jude goes in to meet a client, he is constantly on the lookout for opportunities for other units. He drives in other units into the process. The same is the case for each every other operating head.”
He gives the example of work done recently for Wrigleys by Mudra. “This was work that was handled together by three to four different units, all under Mudra. Celcius, Mudra Health & Lifestyle, Kidstuff, each of these were involved in the entire project, which took place at MMRDA Grounds in Mumbai where the objective was to get into the Guiness Book of Records for the most number of dental check- ups in a day,” he says.
Adds Pratap Bose, “Mudra, as the traditional advertising agency, is a core part of our business and to grow that part is a goal that has not changed. DDB Mudra, which is our association with Tribal DDB is a separate part. Essentially what we are looking to do with that relationship is in being able to leverage DDB’s resources globally as well as regionally and to grow our international business in India. When I came on board, the main task facing me was to grow all the specialist functions under the MAX umbrella. That’s where I am involved on a day-to-day basis. The way forward is to find the best in class partner, for each of these units to grow them substantially. We recently announced the out of home joint venture with Clear Channel with Clear Channel Mudra LLP and before that there was Portland. Mudra. What we would like to do next would be to get into the next generation forms of media which could be getting into mobile marketing, word of mouth among others. The vision is to grow the specialised businesses into core competencies and as Mudra Max, position ourselves as a specialist communications group within the agency.”
In terms of their key differentiating factor, Bose says, “Where we stand now, and where we would be standing a year from now on, is going to be very different. Today, the one differentiating factor would be that we are the largest communications group with real specialist skills across all of consumer touchpoints. That’s our biggest USP and the ability to integrate all these units with advertising will also be our biggest strength.”