The year 2004 perhaps wouldn’t go down as the best of times for Everest, but 2005 meant significant changes in the agency – the transformation into Everest Brand Solutions from Everest Integrated, focussing on talent and making significant noise in the industry – rebooting, as the agency calls it. Even as the changes continue in the New Year, Mahesh Chauhan, President of the agency, is happy with the growth in 2005.
The new businesses that the agency has added in the year include J K Tyres, Kohinoor, TCI, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, India Infoline, Radio City, IGO TV, ING Vysya Mutual Fund, Auto Cop and LIC among others. In addition to this, Chauhan said that more business had also come in from existing clients like Elder Pharma, Parle, and Bombay Chemicals.
“You must realise that it was not just about showing growth,” said Chauhan, adding, “We de-grew by 33 per cent in 2004. Our task in the beginning of the year was to arrest decline, show growth and accelerate that growth, and we have managed it. In 2005, we have grown by almost 70 per cent, which has come from both new business and organic growth of existing clients. In all, we have added as much as Rs 150 crore of billings to the agency.”
For him, 2004 was the year of reckoning and planning, while 2005 was the year of executing and one of the key things in the process was to establish brand Everest.
“We needed to have a distinct identity and we needed to tell people this is the new Everest. We didn’t change into a new agency overnight. In November 2004, we identified the culture that we wanted Everest to personify and we were already signalling the industry about the change. The re-launch was indicating our commitment to that change,” Chauhan explained.
Drawing a comparison to last year, he said, “We had difficulties on every count. If I needed to hire someone, I had to go out with a begging bowl. In the case of clients, we weren’t aware of pitches, we weren’t invited to any of them. I was making cold calls, introducing the agency to people – I used to call myself Zohra Bai, going to the clients, doing a little dance and seducing them. From that position to being where we are today has been quite a journey.”
Speaking more on this change, he said, “We have focussed intensely on people. From the state of having the finest non-talent to the kind of talent we have today, and that too of people who chose to be with Everest, is one of the best indicators of the change in the agency. Last year, we lost around 40 people from the agency. This year in the same period, we lost seven. Again, there are cases like Milind Dhaimade and Amit Kenkre, where I am proud with what they are doing – showing the quality of people Everest has.”
He further said, “The second count is that we can decline business today. We have taken a conscious decision that we will choose our own clients.”
Chauhan believed that Everest had been able to achieve this due to the change in the agency culture it brought in and the fact that the agency had invested in creating its brand. “You do associate a certain kind of youthfulness, high energy level and consistently high quality of work with Everest. No other agency has been able to achieve this,” he pointed out.
On being questioned as to why he had made such a statement, Chauhan replied, “If you give a sheet of paper to 10 people at O&M and ask them to define the agency, you will get 10 different answers – not in our case. Even if you asked people outside the agency, maybe you would get different answers, but there would be consistency in that as well.”
The agency is geared for the New Year as well. The structure that was announced in 2005 would actually kick off in April 2006. “We have done away with departments in this structure and introduced idea leaders and knowledge managers. The structure is unprecedented and it should be able to bring in a whole new level of energy and creativity in the organisation,” elaborated Chauhan.