Advertising Interviews

Mohit Dhar Jayal

Managing Director | 19 Mar 2010

Indian creative is lacking in new blood... hopefully, the (creative) independents will have the same effect here as they’ve had everywhere else – that is, break some conventions and inject some fresh energy into the proceedings.

After graduating with a gold medal from Delhi University in 1990, followed by a degree in Economics and Politics from Oxford University, Mohit Dhar Jayal has held key positions at agencies in India and abroad, including Leo Burnett London and Euro RSCG India, following which he established his own brand development agency in a joint venture with the Madison Group.

In 2003, Jayal joined V Sunil as a partner at ‘A’, a highly successful creative independent that merged with Wieden+Kennedy in November 2007 to create W+K India. During his career, Jayal has helped create positioning strategies and sub-brands for corporations across the world.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Pallavi Goorha Kashyup, Jayal

Q. How has the journey been for W+K since it entered India in November 2007?

We’ve spent the last two and half years carefully building up our talent and infrastructure, ensuring that we have a quality operation. And a lot of effort has gone into building a strong Nokia team, of course. Now, we’ve started acquiring new pieces of business, which is always fun.

Q. W+K follows the policy of one office in a country, or so it would seem. And India is the youngest operation of the company. Where does India stand in the global W+K network, both in terms of revenue and geographic expansion?

W+K Delhi, like W+K Shanghai, is an important part of the W+K network for three reasons: (a) India’s market potential; (b) being able to participate in a consumer revolution; and (c) the opportunity to work with W+K’s global clients in an exciting new region. W+K Delhi is already a significant contributor to the network’s revenue, and will hopefully turn into a major contributor by 2012.

Q. Was W&K India affected by recession? What were the measures you took during this period?

Thankfully unaffected. But we banned company cocktails, just in case.

Q. How was the year 2009 for the company?

2009 for the company has been satisfactory. We grew as projected, and continued to build an excellent team.

Q. What are some of the plans and targets for 2010?

Now that we have a great range of brands to work on, and some very smart people to work on them, we want to prove our strategic value. That’s the plan.

Q. The Nokia’s N-Series campaign from the agency was written about a lot. Which are some of the creative works from W+K India that you are proud of?

We’re very proud of our work on IndiGo, who we worked with to redefine every aspect of customer experience, right from lighting to sandwich boxes. It’s a great product at a great price, and people love it. It’s got very little to do with advertising, which makes it all the more satisfying.

Q. What do you think are the areas that Indian advertising practitioners should focus on to create a wider global impact? How would you ensure the same for W+K India?

Maintain 100 per cent integrity, even at the risk of growth. Don’t get distracted by how things are – focus instead on what you think will be. That’s what we believe, anyway.

Q. It goes without saying that that for the growth of an agency, balancing between existing clients and new ones is necessary. How does W+K manage this?

We don’t see this as an issue. Work on everything – no matter how big/ small/ old/ new – with the same commitment.

Q. We have heard of indiscriminate pitching that clients call for, and many a times we don’t hear about the results. What is your take on the pitch fee issue?

Indiscriminate pitching shows a lack of focus on everybody’s part. If a pitch fee can fix the problem, then it’s a good idea.

Q. In India, though the creative output is substantial, agencies here still find those international awards elusive. Where is Indian creative lacking?

Indian creative is lacking in new blood.

Q. Could you elaborate a bit on the rise of the Creative Independents in India? How is it impacting the advertising scene in the country?

It’s too early to tell. But hopefully, the independents will have the same effect here as they’ve had everywhere else – that is, break some conventions and inject some fresh energy into the proceedings.

Q. What about the onslaught of creative agencies like BBDO and BBH in the last two years – how did that change the gameplan for you?

We love those guys. The more of us there are, the quicker we can start creating great global-Indian brands, and put an end to all this mediocrity.

Q. Do you see an increase in mergers and acquisitions by international networks of Indian advertising agencies? And does this mean that the stranglehold of foreign agencies will increase further?

Haven’t really noticed. Sounds sinister!

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