India is facing a serious talent crunch and it couldn’t be more obvious. Ogilvy & Mather still doesn’t have a CEO. TBWA\India is working hard on finalising an NCD or a CCO. Grey Worldwide doesn’t have an NCD. Amidst all this, there are newer players coming on the scene. One announcement waiting to happen any day now is that of Publicis-backed agency BBH India. BBH is very close to choosing its team and may, in fact, have it in place by the time this story is online, and that means some more senior hands exhausted.
If media reports are to be believed, team BBH India is going to gain from Bates 141 with Subhash Kamath, CEO, Bates 141, headed there. Priti Nair is said to be on her way to BBH as well. So, not only is Grey looking for an NCD, but Bates 141 would soon be looking for a CEO too. The two fortunately have their President and NCD in place at present.
Indian advertising fraternity is very quick in putting two and two together, and in this case, we are looking at a possible Bates Grey 141. Why is Grey in between? Well, Bates does have a reputation of being the lead name when it comes to mergers. Remember, Bates Enterprise (Bates merged with Enterprise Nexus in 2005), and then Bates David Enterprise (Bates Enterprise merged with Brand David in 2007).
We must add here that some of the industry old hands also added Equus Red Cell to the list. However, the quorum of people speculating on Bates 141 and Grey is higher than those speculating on all three.
When Grey Worldwide was contacted on the subject, Grey Worldwide officials stated that no such plans were on the anvil. All mails and calls on the issue to Sonal Dabral, Chairman, Bates 141 India, and Regional Creative Director, Bates 141 APAC, have gone answered.
One sensitive issue in any merger is the possibility of conflicting businesses. Some of the clients of Bates 141 include Radio City, Virgin Mobile, Tata AIG, Nokia, Muthoot Group, Axiom and Khadims, among others. Grey Worldwide’s kitty includes the likes of Deccan Cargo, Bindass, My FM, USL Wines, Fairever, Schwarzkopf and so on. This is not including the businesses where either Bates 141 or Grey Worldwide have been empanelled. Another indication on why the merger would not be such a bad idea.
Industry comments on the subject are interesting. A highly placed official of another WPP company said, “It makes sense to merge a company with another, hopefully a stronger one, if the revenues of the company are very low. In a sense that is what had happened with David.” Another official said, “I don’t think lack of people is ever a reason to merge. If Grey Worldwide or Bates 141 are not bringing the kind of revenues or don’t seem like places where people would want to work at senior posts, then that is another issue.” Yet another industry veteran emphatically stated, “A Bates 141 and Grey Worldwide merger would be the biggest blunder of Indian advertising history!”
Well, we would know soon enough.