Shinmin Bali
Feb 12, 2015

'We’re not completely different from JWT but our offering is different': Siddhartha Vinchurkar

The MD of Mirum talks about the relationship with J. Walter Thompson, plans for India, and more...

'We’re not completely different from JWT but our offering is different': Siddhartha Vinchurkar
J. Walter Thompson Company had recently announced the launch of Mirum, a new global company consisting of 11 digital agencies spanning 17 countries and 40 offices.  
Mirum companies include Digitaria (U.S.), XM (Asia Pacific), CASA (Brazil), ActivearkJWT (Finland, Sweden, India and U.K.) and Twist Image (Canada). Lunchbox (U.S.), i-Cherry (Brazil), HeathWallace (U.K.), Quirk (South Africa and U.K.), Clarus (Mexico) and X-Prime (France).
Campaign India spoke with Siddhartha Vinchurkar, managing director, Mirum, about heading the Indian operations of the agency.                                    
Vinchurkar spoke about the conception of Mirum, “During 2011 – 12, J. Walter Thompson was on an acquisition spree. Interestingly, a disease of entrepreneurship was spreading within agencies. Also because clients wanted something on a global scale in terms of digital. This is where the idea came from, to consolidate the best digital brains and verticals around the world while being under the JWT umbrella. Since the last two years we’ve been advancing ideas and meeting global leaders of respective agencies following which we announced Mirum. Mirum currently includes 11 agencies. These understand the needs of their respective local markets.”
He spoke about what aspect would Mirum be focusing on, having just entered, “We already have ongoing relationships with our clients in Europe. We are anyways going to work with them and expand our portfolio. At the same time, we’re looking into an organic growth in India, wherein we scale up and involve ourselves in pitches, without ruling out the possibility of bringing a full scale digital agency under the umbrella.”  
Speaking about Mirum’s relationship with J. Walter Thompson, he mentioned, “Mirum falls under the J. Walter Thompson umbrella. We’re not competitors. We’re colleagues and we compliment each other. JWT isn’t going to stop building its digital capabilities. We’re not completely different from them but our offering is different. Mirum is purely digital so our capabilities include, content, creatives, interaction design, service design, concept building, analytics and such. It is more technology driven.”
He, however, mentioned for Mirum to be treated as independent. “Mirum is going to be an autonomous body. But there are cases where we might collaborate as we have done in the past. We have collaborated on pitches and might continue to do so, but in-large we’ll operate independently. JWT already has its clients base and it’s doing well. Now it is upto Mirum to build its own user base as well as nurture and nourish the relationships.”
With respect to competition, Vinchurkar  lists AKQA and VML Qais as Mirum's ‘straightforward’ competitors.
Currently in India, the agency has ‘around 10 to 12 people,’ informs Vinchurkar. “Activeark started in India in 2010 as one of the clients wanted to move to India and wanted us here. We started with small projects and were eventually acquired by J. Walter Thompson. Wherever we had a presence we merged with the local JWT.”
Vinchurkar expanded about what Mirum aims to achieve in 2015. He said, “The next one year we want to understand the market, meet the respective regional heads, collaborating and discussing what can be done.  One idea can be having a shared service centre in India where we do a lot of technology and user experience consulting to our global and regional offices. We also need to start building relations in India. It is a slow process but we’ve started getting requests for pitches since the recent announcement. With respect to expanding, we need to do research on the (digital) agencies that are left independent. It is not just about acquisition, our models of acquisitions are very different. It is about being entrepreneur led. Usually agencies are professional-led which isn’t the case here. Here, every office head has some or the other stake or a small amount of ownership in the company. This is what we will be looking at even in case of the agency that we eventually acquire. It will be complex but we don’t rule out the possibility.”
The priority, he states, would be to continue servicing global clients but at the same time to discover Indian clients and the kind of services they are looking forward to. Currently they have at least five clients.
“We want to focus on our existing clients as they are the reason for our existence. At the same time, we would focus on leveraging the Indian market. We might get more clients or we might even have an agency but it is still early to tell.”
Campaign India

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