Margaret Fairless Barber, said, ‘To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it more fit for its prime function of looking forward’.
As we retrograde ourselves to the past, we can say that this wasn’t a year that saw the birth of an exciting category or infusion of fresh ideas into the industry. It wasn’t the best of times and neither was it the worst of times because they sold and made money. But quite contrary to the thought of ‘Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving,’ by David Ogilvy, the industry actually stopped testing and hence, improving.
The year saw some major announcements in its leadership. K V Sridhar (aka Pops) was given a South Asia role including Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh besides looking after the creative product of Leo Burnett India. To take up creative challenges at a much larger platform, Bobby Pawar said hello to JWT as the Chief Creative Officer and Managing Partner and in an attempt to bring the fun back into advertising, Mudra unleashed a hoarding to welcome the new JWT creative boss. Giving the country one of the most memorable Hinglish campaigns – ‘Humko Binnies Mangta’, the local global, Sonal Dabral, who is the new Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of the DDB Mudra Group started working towards turning the agencies fortune. Ogilvy’s old hand Sanjay Thapar moved to Bates as CEO. The move was an attempt to infuse positivity into the Bates India office that saw the exit of two of its senior executives - Sonal Dabral and Sandeep Pathak.
Bates got a new identity called ‘Bates CHI & Partners’ that followed the announcement of the joint venture between Bates Asia and CHI & Partners with the aim of having deep roots in Asia.
It was surely marked as the year of mergers and acquisitions that led to the marriage between technology and creativity with Dentsu grabbing the hottest deal of the town by acquiring 51 per cent stake in TapRoot India. BBH was 100 per cent owned by Publicis Groupe this year, and India saw its share of the impact too.
In terms of account movements and winning pitches, the year didn’t create any history but roster agencies seemed to be the ‘in’ thing. Lowe Lintas & Partners grabbed Coca-Cola India this summer and Coke in India added three agencies in its roster - McCann Erickson, Weiden+Kennedy and Lowe Lintas & Partners. JWT aligned with Starbucks to brew coffee in India. TapRoot was added to Marico’s roster for Set Wet and also bagged the creative mandate for Karbonn Mobiles.
The urge for creative freedom has led to rise of several independent agencies in the past few years. Within a short span, these desi independent agencies have proved their mettle by lapping up some big ticket accounts. However, this year has seen agencies coming up with specialised offerings to drive differentiation and create value for clients. In a hunt for fresh ideas, big ticket clients have started roping in multiple creative agencies for campaigns like Coke that involved three agencies for its summer campaign.
The new buzz word for agencies was ‘Augmented reality’ that brought interactivity to the real world, maintaining a viral loop. The country has witnessed Mahindra using the technology at the Auto Expo to launch its Mahindra XUV500 and Lakme Fashion Week experienced the launch of Godrej Interio's latest furniture on the ramp through AR. Not only brands but movies such as ‘Ferrari Ki Sawaari’ also did an AR stunt that witnessed participation from a lot of people.
To sum up, it was a year that saw the young ones grow, that led the industry mature and it was a year that saw technology break free but it did not see innovations, experimentation or crazy creative ideas that redefined the landscape.