Advertising Interviews

Dhunji Wadia

President | 04 Feb 2011

If you just focus on the creative work, all the good things will happen – the brands will get healthy, the agency will grow, you will get new business, you’ll make more money, you will be able to pay bonuses. Creative work is the whole agency.

Having done Master’s in Marketing Management from Mumbai University, Dhunji Wadia has been working with the advertising industry from the past 25 years. He has worked on various national and international brands such as Nike, Levi Strauss, Jockey, Unilever, Diamond Trading Co, Kellogg , Standard Chartered, Warner Lambert, Bosch, etc. Dhunji set up the Diamond Marketing Group in India for the Diamond Trading Co. in 1995. In 1997 he took up the role of Regional Business Manager for Unilever Home and Personal Care division for Central Asia, North Africa and Middle East Region (CAME region). Dhunji then took over a role at JWT India.

Under his stewardship JWT Bangalore won over 150 awards, both international and national. He was appointed as Managing Partner JWT Mumbai on January 1, 2008 preceding which JWT Mumbai won a Grand Prix and an Integrated/Titanium Cannes Lion. He has now taken up the role of the President of Everest Brand Solutions from December 1, 2010 post which the agency has won the GoAir business within a month of his appointment.

In this interview with Shubhangi Mehta, Dhunji speaks further on what his plans for Everest is.

Q. You were associated with JWT for a span of 18 years, which is arguably India’s largest agency and now you have a new challenge in Everest Brand Solutions. You have spent some time here now – what would you say is the key difference in working between the scale of both agencies?

After a successful and fulfilling stint at JWT, where I’ve had extensive associations with some of the most vigorous marketing companies, I am now seeking to leverage the width and depth of my experience in leading the Everest team to greater success. The basic difference is that there is no difference at all. Neither the size of the agency nor the scope or even the geographic reach of the agency makes a difference. The difference for any client is really in the people. Do they bring the experience, knowledge and insight to a client that will make a big impact in that organisation's results and bottom line?

Q. How do you compare EBS’ creative team? Will you be hiring talent from JWT?

We have a carefully selected team of passionate and motivated individuals. We offer a unique blend of award-winning creative talent with the marketing expertise that will grow the business of our clients. At Everest, there is a blend of business expertise, artistic creativity and technological innovation, but always with the clients’ strategic goals in mind. We never sacrifice the clients’ success for the purpose of artistic self-indulgence. When we recruit new people we will be making sure that they meet our agency’s thinking; irrespective of where they are currently working. Ours is an ideas business and talent may come in from any industry not just advertising agencies.

Q. After the transfer of N Padmakar to Rediffusion YNR, the place of the national creative director is still vacant, do you plan to make someone take his place soon?

Our end-product is more important than the designation of the people who have worked on it. Everest has quite a few award-winning, talented people working within the agency and because of our size we are able to give a personalised offering to our clients. Having said that, when we decide on the creative leadership, we let everyone know!

Q. What are some other areas of focus for you at Everest Brand Solutions?

If you just focus on the creative work, all the good things will happen – the brands will get healthy, the agency will grow, you will get new business, you’ll make more money, you will be able to pay bonuses. Creative work is the whole agency. Having understood the destination, work has already begun on the strategy to get there. In the process, people who are excited about the opportunities will make it big rather than people who are happy to sit back and wait for things to happen and the results will speak for themselves.

Q. What are some of the ideas you have for new business development for the agency?

As I mentioned, our future is tied directly to the success of our clients and brands. Our core task is to deliver the best counsel for our clients. Our business is idea driven and all of us need to actively help create, defend and nurture ideas. We are seeking growth, but not at the cost of losing our personal touch with each individual client.

Q. Everest is what the industry terms as ‘second agency’ --- are there disadvantages to being the second brand from a company?

Everest is a 65-year old organisation with a glorious history. It has a huge brand name and reputation. EBS is a lean agency where seasoned professionals from marketing, advertising, research, design, and interactive backgrounds come together to build strong client relationships. Our group has two agencies that are independently run by a set of completely different professionals. The true test would be to see that the agency’s tremendous potential gets utilised to the fullest.

Q. How much do global affiliations help in the progress of any Indian agency?

Global affiliations make you part of the world. You have access to what is happening out there in real time. It also gives you a perspective on whether the work you produce can stand the test of an international forum.

Q. Being a veteran in this business you must have seen nth number of ups and downs. What are the things that the Indian ad industry need to watch out for in days to come?

As an industry we would thrive a lot more if we had one voice when it comes to important issues like agency remuneration, pitch fees, even awards. And I am not talking about the 'fly-by-night operators' here, but the established players. I'm sure everyone has issues. But I'd rather work with the system and address these issues than become a rebel.

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