Navin Talreja and Kawal Shoor, ex-Ogilvy senior executives have recently announced the start of their own venture which they have named ‘The Womb’. Termed as a ‘borderless outfit’, the agency will be involved in creating campaigns, product-services and branded content for their clients. Few weeks back, Satbir Singh, former Chief Creative Officer (CCO) of FCB Ulka launched his own advertising agency ‘Thinkstr’, which he describes as ‘ideas for a digital world’.The trend of ad honchos starting on their own has been on the rise in the last one year. Creative heads like Abhijit Awasthi, Pratap Bose and Chraneeta Mann came in the news last year for quitting their high-profile advertising jobs and starting off on their own.
Bose, ex- DDB Mudra CCO along with Mandeep Malhotra, who was the President at DDB Mudra Max, started their own agency- ‘The Social Street’ or the ‘digitally driven agency' in 2015. This year, the agency announced their strategic alliance with Rediffusion Y&R Group to provide value added marketing services to clients of Rediffusion Y&R, Everest Brand Solutions and Rediffusion Wunderman.
Keeping in mind, today’s fast changing consumers, these agencies specialise in offering services which are not restricted to any particular platform. Then, there are smaller clients who have less money but require more personalised attention and these start-ups serve their purpose. These creative hot-shops are not only attracting the young blood of advertising, but are also breaking all rules in this domain. Their motto is: ‘let’s not worry about clients; business will come, if one has the confidence to succeed’.
Why Start-up trend in advertising will continue?
In an earlier interview with exchange4media, Piyush Pandey, Chairman and Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather, India and South Asia spoke about the sudden rise of new-age creative agencies in India. He said, “It is like a churn in the industry, which will happen. There will always be four to five new agencies that will come up; some will do well, while some will sell out. It actually happens every 7-8 years, people grow and they have ambitions of being on their own. Those working for 15 years can develop fatigue, particularly those who get into their 40s. There is a feeling that there is something which I wanted to do, but couldn’t do. This is self-actualisation. Those in their 30s have the opportunity of now actualising themselves. It is a cycle and it will happen, but as long as it doesn’t happen every year, you should take it in your stride and move on.”
According to Nabendu Bhattacharyya, MD & Founder, Milestone Brandcom, “There is a wave of start-up syndrome today. It is easier to start things on your own because of investments flowing in- from both the global investors as well as global corporates. The market is conducive, which gives new agencies a scope to enter the already cluttered market. But when we started it in 2009, it was the time of Global Recession and as a result of which, we had to battle many challenges. They came in the form of raising funds from PE, handling private equity guy’s number pressure in terms of promised delivery, winning media owner’s confidence, competition reaction and attracting the right talent.”
Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO South Asia - Dentsu Aegis Network Chairman Posterscope & psLIVE, Asia Pacific highlighted, “We will get to see more start-ups this year in advertising, not only in creatives, but in general. These agencies are usually started by 1 or 2 people, who have built equity for themselves over the years and therefore, most of them have a positive start. The problem however, is not all agencies succeed, they start with a Big Bang, but often fizzle out mid-way. So it is very critical for start-ups to sustain the momentum in order to survive.”
Sam Balsara, Chairman, Madison World highlighted that the trend has actually never stopped. There may have been a few dips and a few highs, but it is natural that where the entry barriers are low, which they are for creative agencies, there will always be individuals, sharp shooters, high flyers who at some point in time or for some reason or the other want to evaluate the option of starting out on their own. One advice, I would have for them is before you decide to start off on your own, please think, that the agency that you are creating, will it be worthy of you working in it as an employee? I think you should take all factors in account before taking the final plunge. I have no doubt that over the next decade we will see; many sterling agencies emerge from at least 2 of the 10 people who start up on their own.”
Why clients prefer to work with these new-age start-ups?
Bobby Pawar, Managing Director and Chief Creative Officer, Publicis India pointed out, “As businesses grow, the challenges of scale will be there, the smaller clients will want more attention for less money, therefore, the trend of creative start-ups is going to continue. Do I see the heat of it? Obviously it affects the business somewhat; but the effects of it will be more long term. In a sense, the start-ups are affecting the businesses of bigger agencies in more developed and fast churning market, like the US, where the big clients are flirting with lot of agencies.”
Commenting on whether, the traditional clients will give their accounts to the new-age agencies. He said, “It depends on how successful your work has been. Happy Creatives did the Flipkart work and they grew on the back of that. So you got to do work that will take you somewhere. You need to grow on the back of your work!”
According to Bhasin, “Traditional or dinosaur agencies, which have been performing in the same way for the last 50-60 years, will lose out not only to start-ups, but to other agencies as well, gradually. The reason being, they have not been able to embrace digital the way they should have. In future, agencies that will sustain are new media agencies providing holistic and integrated solution to clients. While clients want the solidarity of a large agency, they also desire the spark and personal involvement of senior creative people. Increasingly clients want a mix of both.”
Echoing similar thought, Manish Bhatt, Founder Director, Scarecrow Communications cited, “In general there is no such hesitation with the clients to move their accounts to these new-age agencies. However, brands and clients that may hesitate are the ones aligned with their international network. There is some kind of stickiness with their traditional agencies as they are aligned worldwide. The permanent shift of a big account is happening sporadically and will still take some time more, before the entire account shifts.”