In an exclusive conversation with Campaign India, Ranjan Kapur, chairman, Bates India, admitted that there are rumours in 'certain areas' of the market. With people like Sonal Dabral, Sandeep Pathak and now Dheeraj Sinha, moving out the Bates, the agency might have lost its sheen.
Kapur has different plans for the agency's future, "What's going to happen is that Bates is going to double in size in three years from now. And it will be a contender for the top five or six agencies in the country."
His confidence stems from the belief that the agency is better poised for the future, with billings split 60-40 in favour of the digital-OOH-activation combine as against traditional advertising.
According to Kapur, the OOH business has doubled in the last two years, while the digital and activation businesses have grown 30 to 35 per cent. For Bates, another opportunity for growth is in the mainstream advertising business, which has grown just 5 to 6 per cent in the last one year.
Kapur maintained that the OOH, digital and activation clients have not been impacted in any way by the recent exits, while admitting to 'a few hiccups' among some advertising clients, who were largely handled by former India chairman and regional executive creative director Sonal Dabral and regional planning director Dheeraj Sinha.
He stated that bates has already reorganised its planning community and they will be announcing a replacement for Dheeraj Sinha soon.
He added that Sanjay Thapar (currently group president, North and East, Ogilvy) will be moving to Mumbai to handle the agency's operations as group chief executive officer.
"My role here is for the interim period. When Sanjay comes in to take up his role, he will be the final point of contact for bates. The new planning director will report to him as well," he stated.
Kapur highlighted how the agency is already investing in technology to up the ante for effectiveness measurement for its clients in the OOH and shopper marketing space.
"15 per cent of the total OOH budget for this year has gone into developing software to enable the clients to track the effectiveness of a particular outdoor campaign. Then there's a software to track the creation, transfer and installation of merchandise within retail outlets. We have already made this offering to ITC with whom we've been working for the last three years now," he added.
On his objectives for bates, Kapur earmarked growing internally to be at the top of the chart. On whether there are any acquisition plans on the agenda, he commented, "WPP's organic growth in India is 18 per cent. There's no single company you can buy that will give you this kind of volume growth. So to buy something is really not the right thing to do."
And are there any gaps in the bates portfolio? He answered, "One such area is rural activation. We are still dabbling our way through it before we get it right. The other end would be the low end digital space, where the volumes are coming from. We are seriously analysing the return on investment on the digital front. We might look at buying a digital outlet if need be, but we haven't taken a final call as yet."
Ending the conversation with a message to the industry and prospective employees, Kapur said, "I sent out a message to the industry when I joined Ogilvy India in 1994 (inviting people to join). I got responses from 1000 people and I met each one of them over the course of two years. Bates is a plane that's about to fly into the stratosphere and it is not just confined to advertising but covers the whole gamut of engagement with its 'changengage' philosophy. I made a promise in Ogilvy and lived up to it. I am going to do the same at bates. And if you are keen on being a part of this flight, come and talk to me."