It appears that another mega deal is on the cards for the Indian advertising industry. Creative independent TapRoot, that has been in the news for a good portion of 2011 not only for the kind of large advertisers that it had won in the year, but also for doing two of the most talked about campaigns of 2011 – Pepsi and Airtel – has been at the centre of attention for holding companies such as Omnicom, WPP and Publicis Groupe, among others.
While many have been engaged in conversations with TapRoot for alliance and partnerships even before it had officially launched in 2008, industry sources believe that of late, some of these conversations have reached advanced stages. The one company that has found its way in many industry conversations in this context is Omnicom.
A strong rumour that surfaced last week was about Omnicom acquiring TapRoot through its agency brand TBWA\. Omnicom India officials have said that they would not comment on “speculations and rumours” and TapRoot India officials were not available for comments, but exchange4media has gathered that TapRoot is not entertaining any conversation of a complete sellout or of partnering with TBWA\.
“Omnicom has to find some other route to woo TapRoot,” a source close to the development said.
If industry sources are to be believed, one would hear some development in this matter sooner than later.
Omnicom’s alliance with TapRoot, in whatever form, would be a big boost to the Omnicom India strategy.
In the last quarter of 2011, the second phase of Omnicom’s India strategy unfolded when the company bought majority stake in Mudra Group, further strengthening the DDB brand in India. The move was followed by various changes at Mudra, including some key structural changes. Omnicom officials such as DDB - APAC, Japan and India CEO, John Zeigler, have made India a point of focus and one can be sure that more changes can be expected.
Prior to this, in 2007-08, Omnicom brands OMD and BBDO were built ground up in India and both brands, especially OMD, have managed to build a noteworthy India operation.
When Omnicom CEO John Wren came to India in October 2011, there were two points that stood out distinctly in his conversations – Mudra was one of the first steps that Omnicom had taken in the second phase of its India push, and that he would himself be involved in the India market. Both signalled the extreme aggression with which Omnicom is viewing India.
While India has a decent list of independents, including the likes of Cartwheel, Ideas@work, Creativeland Asia, ON, Cut the Crap, Salt and Saints & Warriors, TapRoot has had an exceptional 2011, one that gave independents in India a good name.
TapRoot’s Pepsi and Airtel stories have been told innumerable times and the agency continues to see queries from large advertisers. But one of the most important points that make TapRoot attractive is its leadership team that understands creativity and has developed the rare calibre of presenting ideas that connect. The founding team of Agnello Dias and Santosh Padhi (Aggi and Paddy) are just the kind of assets that any agency would like on its side in India.
Aggi had mentioned to exchange4media in an earlier conversation that both he and Paddy had no rigid views on what they wanted TapRoot to become. To quote Aggi, “TapRoot will become what it wants to become. We will do anything that would be good for the company and for the people in it.”
The time to decide on the ‘anything’ has come closer than one would have expected.