The year 2011 is special for Draftfcb Ulka as the agency completes 50 years on February 1. The company’s top brass has planned a series of events and initiatives to mark this milestone. In a conversation with exchange4media, Ambi MG Parameswaran, Executive Director & CEO, Draftfcb Ulka, speaks on the plans for the Golden Jubilee year and the legacy that the agency wants to take forward.
One point Parameswaran stresses on time and again is the Draftfcb Ulka philosophy of long-term commitment towards employees, clients and other stakeholders. He believes this is reflected in the continuation of the top team, and clients who have been around for over a decade. “This is the legacy Ulka has created in the last 50 years, and we want to ensure is that this legacy continues for another 50 years at least,” said Parameswaran.
Speaking further on some benchmarks that the agency had outlined for the years ahead, he added, “The next is to prepare the organisation for the exciting future that India offers. Next many years are going to be very exciting in India – there are new brands coming in, enhanced competition and we want to make the organisation strengthen its learning orientation.”
The final thing on Parameswaran’s list is to give back to the society in terms of sharing knowledge, experience, and help create a breed of better advertising professionals. He explained, “We are planning a series of workshops and seminars, where we would try and reach to a larger audience outside. This would help improve advertising knowledge in the market place. We have also planned at least two books to be published in the next three to six months, authored by some of the senior people in the company.”
In short, Ulka is geared to strengthen its offering as it celebrates five decades of operations.
The in-house celebrations are open to Ulka employees and alumnus. The agency has put together Ulka50years.com for current and former employees, where archival material has been published. Parameswaran observed, “This is more for nostalgia, which is one part of the in-house celebrations, and we have planned a party on February 1 across our offices for Ulka-ites and ex Ulka-ites. Later in February, we would also have client-facing events in the form of a get-together in Mumbai and Delhi, where we are expecting senior people from Draftfcb.”
As Parameswaran puts it, this is just the beginning of celebrating the Golden Jubilee Year.
Walk Down Memory Lane
Ulka Advertising was founded on February 1, 1961 by Bal and Ann Mundkur. There were seven people who formed the first team, including RK Joshi, considered the father of modern typography in India. Bal’s brother Bhaskar Mundkur joined Ulka soon after, leaving Hindustan Lever. The agency went on to build its business based on strategy based advertising.
Some of the early clients included Gabriel, Crompton Greaves, Mukund, Godrej, Ciba Geigy, Zodiac, Nerolac, Ceat and ITC. The agency opened offices in Kolkata and Delhi in the first decade, and moved into Bangalore and South India 10 years later. A team of six professional managers comprising Ambi MG Parameswaran, Arvind Wable, Shashi Sinha, Nagesh Alai and Niteen Bhagwat, led by Anil Kapoor, joined the agency in the late ’80’s. The new team built on the foundation and took the agency into the top-five league.
In February 1997, Foote Cone & Belding (FCB) acquired a 51 per cent stake in the agency and the name was changed to FCB Ulka. In 2007, Draft Worldwide and FCB merged globally to form Draftfcb. Soon after, Draftfcb acquired the remaining 49 per cent stake and the name changed to Draftfcb Ulka, a 100 per cent Interpublic Group company.
An official statement stated: “Over the past 50 years, the agency’s belief is reflected in its enduring client relationships, many of which can be traced back to the first decade of the agency [ITC, Zodiac, Nerolac]. Many other clients have been with the agency for over two decades [Wipro, Amul, Tata Consultancy Services, Hero Honda, Agrotech, Blue Star]. Similarly, the agency’s top management has stayed together for over two decades; KS Chakravarthy (Chax) further strengthened the core management team when he joined as National Creative Director two years ago. Interestingly, the top 45 executives would have served an average of 10 years+ with the agency group.”
Over the last two decades Ulka has turned itself into a marketing communication solutions provider with two mainline agencies – Draftfcb Ulka Advertising and Interface Communications. It also has media service brand Lodestar UM Media, direct and digital arm Draftfcb Ulka Interactive, pharma agency Draftfcb Ulka Healthcare, Nebula Films, Procyon Graphics, IO Design and Cogito Consulting.